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Mayors, vice-mayors of the EECA and Balkans region: aggravation of the situation with human rights violations, the fight against HIV and health issues of migrants during the period of COVID-19

Friday, December 10, 2021 (Istanbul, Turkey, and virtually at – mayors, vice-mayors, heads of municipal health departments of Istanbul (Turkey), Kyiv and Odesa (Ukraine) , Chisinau (Moldova), Osh (Kyrgyzstan), Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Prague (Czech Republic), as well as the leaders of the international charitable foundation, UNAIDS and the newly created Commission on Drug Policy ECECACD, will talk about the components of sustainable health care in countries and cities, violation of human rights in the context of HIV and health issues of migrants during the period of COVID-19, as well as answer journalists’ questions live.

The press conference will take place as part of the HEALTH SUSTAINABILITY FORUM: HIV and COVID-19 in the EECA region.

Press conference speakers:

  • Andriy Klepikov, Alliance for Public Health
  • Denis GodlevskiyITPCru (the Russian Federation)
  • Pavel BémECECA Commission on Drug Policy, Ex-Mayor of Prague (Czech Republic)
  • Fadei Nagacevschi, Deputy Mayor of Chisinau (Moldova)
  • Hanna Starostenko, Deputy Mayor of Kyiv (Ukraine)
  • Venera Ryskulova, Deputy Mayor of Osh (Kyrgyzstan)
  • Mario Kordić, Mayor of Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Onder Yuksel Eryigit, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Head of Health Department
  • Iryna Kutsenko, Deputy of the Odessa City Council (Ukraine)


When: 1 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. CET, (GMT+3), Friday, December 10, 2021

Where: The press conference will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, at the Hilton Bomonti Hotel, and virtually at

Translation into Russian and English will be provided.

The broadcast of the press conference will be open to everyone on the website

Accreditation for journalists for online and offline participation at the link: the accreditation form on the forum, you can send your questions to the speakers of the press conference in advance. In this case, the questions will be raised by the host on behalf of the editorial office and your media will get an exclusive comment. The time of the press conference is limited, so not all questions of the live broadcast can be asked to the speakers.

Media contacts:

Inna Gavrilova, Public Health Alliance,

Mob .: +380 96 753 81 60 (Telegram, WhatsApp, Viber)


Additional Information for the countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia (EECA) and the Balkan region:

  1. Regional information campaign “Declaoration of Human Rights?”

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the human rights situation in 7 EECA countries: for 2020-2021 the REAct system has registered 6,000+ cases of rights violations, stigma and discrimination. The collected evidences point to legal barriers, harassment and criminalization of HIV-vulnerable populations. It makes it difficult or even impossible for them to access health services, prevention and treatment of HIV, tuberculosis and other diseases.

The awareness campaign, based on evidence collected through REAct as well as the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, illustrates that the rights of marginalized populations most vulnerable to HIV and tuberculosis continue to be violated in practice. Analytical reports have been published on the website, which reflect the main trends and nature of offenses, as well as offer specific recommendations to improve the situation in each country.

According to REAct data, the main violators of rights in 7 countries are representatives of state institutions – medical workers, police. The most common offenses are discrimination, misconduct, violence by law enforcement agencies, denial of access to health services, disclosure of health data and stigma by health workers, physical violence against women by sex partners as well as relatives and police officers.

  1. Situation with HIV / AIDS

The EECA region is the only region in the world where the number of new HIV infections continues to rise among all age groups. According to UNAIDS, there are 1.6 million people, living with HIV in the countries of the region, only 53% of whom are receiving ARV therapy.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, 79.3 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV and 36.3 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Today in the world about 37.7 million people, living with HIV, and almost 6 million of them do not know that they are infected. About 28.2 million people, living with HIV are receiving antiretroviral therapy. In case of insufficient action, UNAIDS has warned of the risk of 7.7 million AIDS-related deaths over the next 10 years.

  1. COVID-19 and vaccination

The total number of cases in the world exceeded 266.5 million people, active cases at the moment – 21.2 million.

RegionNew cases of COVID-19/1 million populationMortality / 1 million populationNumber of vaccine doses / 100 people
World34 172676,8104,2
Bosnia and Herzegovina85 6513 93047,6
Czech Republic209 2763 145129,2
Kazakhstan51 09766989,3

27 502


Moldova91 2182 29940,9
Montenegro252 5123 71185,5
North Macedonia104 3563 67680,5
Russia67 3431 93489,5
Serbia145 6441 376115,9
Turkey104 179911142,2
Ukraine80 7672 04258,8
  1. Health of migrants

Within the global AIDS response, migrants are often identified as a “key population” for HIV prevention activities. Although migration does not equal HIV vulnerability, they face increased risk of HIV infection during after migration due to multiple legal, social, and economic barriers they face on the route and in the receiving countries.

HIV positive migrants often persist in a state of legal uncertainty. Many seek and some obtain medical care, but the arrangements are often not stable. As a result, migrants living with HIV often remain silent and submissive, and socially excluded; they face multiple barriers to attaining health services, especially in the countries of Central and specifically Eastern Europe.

Efforts must be made to reduce barriers to health services, for the benefit of migrants and their communities, and cities being the magnets of migration play a crucial role in addressing the health needs of mobile populations.

  1. Drug policy and health

The Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) countries face widespread problems related to the illicit trafficking and transit of illicit drugs from Asia and Latin America, mainly to EU Member States, as well as the consumption of locally produced synthetic opioids and new psychoactive substances.

People who inject drugs (PWID) in the region account for about half of all new HIV infections. Every seventh one lives with HIV, and every third is infected with hepatitis C.

The region is home to 3,000,000 people who use drugs, accounting for a quarter of all people who inject drugs worldwide. 66% of them live in Russia. Unfortunately, access to harm reduction and health care services remains limited. In some countries, harm reduction services provide insufficient coverage of people who use drugs. A number of countries in the region still have no harm reduction services at all.

A simple transition from criminalization to resource-based harm reduction approaches will generate cost savings and prevent more HIV infections. Over a 20-year period (2020-2040), according to a recent study by The Economist, savings from decriminalization could afford buying antiretroviral therapy (ART) and opioid agonist therapy (OAT) to control the current HIV epidemic among PWID in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

Reinvesting cost savings (i.e. € 773 million over 20 years) in expanding ART coverage to 81% and OATto 40% according UNAIDS / WHO guidelines – will decrease HIV incidence among PWID by 79.4-92.9% over 20 years.