Between May and September 2023, the UNODC conducted four trainings on delivering high-quality opioid agonist services, based on the UNODC operational tool “Establishing and delivering evidence-based, high-quality opioid agonist services”. These trainings were delivered both virtually and in person, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as local stakeholders. The sessions represented a great opportunity to engage with a range of professionals working for and with people who use drugs with a shared intention of increasing access to opioid agonist therapy (OAT).
The UNODC HIV/AIDS Section organized a two-day training as part of a learning visit for a delegation of decision makers from South Africa. The training included South African stakeholders engaged in supporting OAT expansion in the country, as well as representatives from the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), the South African Central Drug Authority (CDA), the National Department of Health of the Republic of South Africa, The NETWORKING HIV & AIDS COMMUNITY OF SOUTHERN AFRICA (NACOSA) nonprofit, and the South African Network of People Who Use Drugs (SANPUD). Additional supplemental sessions focused on the perspectives of OAT clients from both Kenya and South Africa, a presentation of the South Africa Drug Master Plan, and OAT for specific populations, among others.
The training was delivered fully in-person. After the training, there were a series of site visits and stakeholder and community consultations. This training aimed to enhance the scale-up of OAT in South Africa and to strengthen communication between the participants, learning from the example of Kenya, in which OAT services have strong support and coordination from government entities. Monica Ciupagea, Expert, Drug Use and HIV, emphasized that the training aims to enrich the country's initiatives for key populations and to work closely with other stakeholders and colleagues from different countries; Helgar Musyoki, Key Populations Advisor from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, pointed out the support for the implementation of harm reduction programs in Kenya; Rogerio Phili, Executive Manager of the South African National AIDS Council, pointed out the need to include key populations in the national strategies to fight AIDS. This training also served also as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between the UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa, based in Nairobi, and the Regional Office for Southern Africa, based in Pretoria, and as well as other regional and international development cooperation mechanisms.
In May and June of 2023, the UNODC HIV/AIDS Section organized two sessions of Global Training of Trainers on this training package, conducted online. The trainings were delivered by Monica Ciupagea, Expert, Drug Use and HIV, UNODC; Andrew Scheibe, Consultant, UNODC; Annette Verster, Technical Officer, HIV, drug use and most at risk populations, WHO; and Niklas Luhmann, Technical Officer, Global Hepatitis Program, WHO.
Each of the training sessions were conducted over two days and had both theoretical and practical elements, with participants actively taking part in the discussion of real-life cases and how they should be addressed. This training was a great opportunity not only to train professionals in the field but also for them to share their experiences and different lived realities across the globe. Both sessions were met with positive feedback from the participants, who are now fully equipped to deliver trainings on the training package, as well as the publication upon which the package is based. Besides these two sessions, a virtual training of trainers had already been provided in February 2023 for a small group of Portuguese-speaking trainers, so that the training could be rolled out effectively in Mozambique.
Between 24-29 September 2023, UNODC in cooperation with WHO co-organised and conducted two batches of face-to-face training-workshops in Lagos, Nigeria for 52 participants. The trainings were led by UNODC consultant, Dr. Andrew Scheibe, and people in attendance included representatives from the Federal and States Ministries of Health, psychiatrists and medical doctors, programme planners, civil society organisations and members from the community of people who use drugs. The country is poised to implement opioid agonist therapy (OAT), known locally as Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT). This is in response to the great need for people with opioid dependence to access this evidence-based treatment and harm reduction intervention. Additionally, site visits were arranged for a delegation of people to visit two of the pilot sites; a one-stop-shop and a centre on the premises of and linked to a neuropsychiatric hospital. These training sessions form part of UNODC and WHO's ongoing technical support for the planning and implementation of OAT in the country, and planning for future scale-up.