In early 2018 a group was created on Facebook for experience exchange, psychological support and sharing information about the access to the substitution therapy (OST) programs in different countries of the world for migrants and travelers.
The group founder David Ananiashvili notes that currently the group is targeted only to Russian-speaking OST patients, but currently several strategies of the platform development are considered. In a week almost 100 activists already joined the discussion and created the OST map of 7 countries (Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Estonia, Belarus, Portugal, Belgium), the work on filling the OST map with content is going on.
“I have long been dreaming to create a platform for communication between the participants of Opioid Substitution Therapy Program (OST) with Methadone, Buprenorphine, as well as other medications used in the world (heroin, opium etc), when the relevant experience is accumulated. I have been receiving methadone within the program for 12 years and I’m an activist on access to treatment of HIV, TB, Hepatitis, I need to travel to other countries often. Unfortunately, the Georgian regulations allow taking only a 4-days’ stock of methadone out of the country and I often need to apply to the OST programs in different countries of the world. It’s very important to know what documents are required in a certain country, addresses of the programs, the type and dosage of used medications! We want to assist the patients in OST programs in the post-Soviet and Eastern Europe countries.
In certain cases, we will help to draft an appropriate letter to the program, arrange your meeting with a doctor. The feedback and your experience of interacting with OST programs are extremely important. Our goal is that patients receiving methadone and buprenorphine had the opportunity to exchange information, help each other and share experience. I, from my side, will answer any questions”, – says David Ananiashvili, Director of the Plus Group, representative of ECUO PLWH in Georgia. – “Why is it so urgent now? The reason is simple: we travel, we look for better jobs, but it’s quite difficult to relocate for us, the OST patients. It’s difficult to collect information, documents, find the nearest OST program. These services are provided on paid basis in most clinics of the Western countries. We need to solve this problem beforehand to avoid being left without the drug”.
All the participants of the OST program, NGO staff working in this area, the parents and relatives of people on OST, as well as narcologists may join the group.