UNODC supports workshops in Argentina on drug users' access to health services


Capacity building workshops in Argentina

Buenos Aires, 24 September 2014 - The first capacity building workshops conducted by civil association Intercambios AC, with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the AIDS and STD Department of Argentina's Ministry of Health, were held last week in the municipality of Matanza and in Bariloche. The workshops are aimed at healthcare professionals and members of civil society organizations, with the objective of reducing stigma and discrimination against drug users and facilitating their access to health services available in their communities, focusing on HIV/AIDS services.

The Regional Advisor for HIV/AIDS of the UNODC Liaison and Partnership Office, Carola Lew, noted that "Argentina is one of the countries selected by UNODC as high priority to reduce the HIV epidemic among people who use drugs". As part of this initiative, and in consultation with the Department of AIDS and STD of Argentina's Ministry of Health, an action plan that includes increasing accessibility to health systems was developed. "People who use drugs are considered one of the populations at higher risk of HIV infection, and one of the causes of this increased vulnerability is the stigma and discrimination that often restricts or inhibits their access to and use of health services", stated Lew. "Therefore, these workshops are aimed at primary health care professionals who have ongoing contact with the drug user's population. They also have the objective of updating concepts and identifying needs and available resources to improve primary health care", said the UNODC adviser.

The opening of the first workshop, held in the city of Matanza, was attended by the Director of the Municipal Health Program, Gabriela Hamilton; the Chief of the Municipal Program on HIV/AIDS, Jorge Pueyo; and Juan Sotelo of the Directorate of AIDS and STD of the Ministry of Health. The speakers from Intercambios AC were Paula Goltzman and Araceli Galante

The second workshop was held in Bariloche on 18 September, with the presence of Carola Lew from UNODC, Julia Recchi and Juan Sotelo from the AIDS and STD Department of the Ministry of Health, Maria José Corominas from Rio Negro's Provincial HIV Program, René Roa from NGO DeSida para a Vida - Bariloche, and Alfonso Zuñiga and Juan Manuel Cristiani from Bariloche's Dependency Prevention Center. The speakers from Intercambios AC were Diana Rossi and Maria Pia Pawlowicz.

* With information from Intercambios AC.

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