UNODC and partners support Republican Narcology Center to fight COVID-19 in Kyrgyzstan

Although COVID-19 is usually mild and most people recover quickly, it can be very serious for certain groups of people, including the elderly and people with stressed immune systems or underlying conditions. Ensuring continued access to health care during a pandemic, including services for people who use drugs and treatment of drug use disorders, is key not only to protect the health of populations, but also key to security and stability.

Every day Kyrgyzstan informs on growing numbers of COVID – 19 infected people. The increase is noticed from the 1st of September when the number of infected increased from 60 cases per day to over 500 on October 30, 2020.

On the wake of the second wave of the pandemic in the country and under the United Nations call for COVID-19 response, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Programme office in the Kyrgyz Republic in cooperation with the UNODC Headquarters, Regional Office for Central Asia and UNAIDS Country Envelop Funds supported the Republican Narcology Centre (RNC) with the personal protection equipment for the total amount of 10,000 US dollars.

“Referring to the unexpected rapid increase of the infection spread in July, we decided not to wait until it becomes too obvious that hospitals are overwhelmed with patients and reorganized our premises for 200 beds, in order to receive and treat people who got infected with COVID-19”, said Mr. Ruslan Tokobayev, Head of the Republican Narcology Centre of the Kyrgyz Republic.

“It is important to ensure the continuity of adequate access to health and social services for people who use drugs and to provide the continuity of care required as described in the International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders (UNODC/WHO, 2020) especially in times of crisis. This includes low-threshold services as well as psychosocial and pharmacological treatment in a range of settings”, said Mr. Andrey Seleznev, Head of the UNODC Programme office in the Kyrgyz Republic.

He also added: “Personal protection equipment: face masks, gloves, chemical suits, rubber boots and sanitizers are already used by RNC staff and hopefully will serve as a good protection under the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

According to the UNODC ROCA produced report “Brief overview of COVID-19 impact on drug use situation as well as on the operations of the drug treatment services and harm reduction programmes in Central Asia”: The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted economic development, lifestyle and health in all countries of the Central Asian region. It also affected work of drug treatment services and harm reduction programmes. As the practice showed, PWUD have been shown to be the last to consider safety with respect to COVID-19 and often lack the money and motivation to purchase personal protection equipment. Accordingly, the issue of providing this population group with personal protection equipment and information materials is relevant for many countries. Some countries noted the need to provide personal protection equipment and awareness and education programmes on COVID-19 for health workers as well.

The support was conducted within the Sub-programme 3 - “Drug prevention, treatment and reintegration and HIV prevention” of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia 2015-2020 and UNODC Global Project GLOK32 “UNODC-WHO Joint Programme on drug dependence treatment and care”.



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