September 5-8 – Kazakhstan – UNODC, with the support of UNAIDS and USAID, and jointly with the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Kazakhstan organized two trainings on the role of Law Enforcement officers in drug use prevention and HIV prevention, police drug referral schemes for the heads of offices and divisions and deputy chiefs of police departments at the Almaty Academy of the Ministry of Interior of Kazakhstan. During the trainings conducted on 5-8 September 2022, a total of 50 high and mid-level law enforcement officers expanded their knowledge on occupational hygiene and safety, harm reduction, and HIV prevention among people who use drugs. The trainings were aimed at enhancing the understanding of the important role of law enforcement agencies in HIV prevention among vulnerable groups and strengthening partnerships and cooperation with civil society organizations in the field of public health and safety.
UNODC’s key governmental and non-governmental partners, such as the Republican Mental Health Centre and the Kazakh Scientific Centre of Dermatology and Infectious Diseases, and the Association of Legal Entities “Kazakhstan Union of People Living with HIV”, provided expert support to the trainings.
In particular, the expert from the Kazakh Scientific Centre of Dermatology and infectious Diseases and Almaty city AIDS Centre presented information on the basics of HIV, viral hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis as well as their prevention and treatment, and talked about the current epidemiological situation in the country. The Mental Health Centre experts presented information on the current drug situation in the country, harm reduction services that are being provided to the people who use drugs with a focus on opioid substitution therapy as a key intervention for people who inject drugs, and overdose prevention. The representative of the Kazakhstan Union of People Living with HIV discussed the issues of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and people who use drugs. The representatives of the “Revanche” Public Foundation shared their experience in creating and sustaining police drug referral schemes in Almaty and developing partnerships with various police divisions such as probation service and penitentiary departments.
The trainings showed on one hand that both sides – the law enforcement agencies and the civil society organizations – lack information on the specifics of each other’s work, and on the other hand that there is a great potential for building partnerships and expanding their cooperation, in particular for creating and sustaining police drug referral schemes. Training participants requested UNODC to provide expert support in developing instruction on referring people who use drugs who committed non-violent drug-related crimes to organizations providing medical and social support services.