Day of Action 2013

The “Support. Don’t Punish” Day of Action was organised in Bucharest by the Romanian Harm Reduction Network (RHRN). The event in Romania was held in Bucharest on July 1st, where a protest was organized as a way to draw public attention on the ending of the biggest harm reduction project.

The protest was held in front of three ministries: the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Labour. Protesters submitted petitions to all three ministries, demanding urgent action to stop the rapid spread of HIV among people who inject drugs in Romania; the cancellation of registering PUD by their identification number (the Ministry of Labour procedure) and the initiation of OST in police lock-ups and the acceleration of funding allocation to the National Anti-drug Agency as they have the possibility to contract NGOs for services provision.

There were about 80 participants – drug users accessing syringe exchange programs,OST patients, harm reduction professionals, interns and supporters.

As part of this protest, a happening was organized in front of the Ministry of Health: four volunteers wearing t-shirts with the campaign logo (Support. Don’t Punish.) were marked by a street artist symbolically impersonating the Ministry of Health with the mark “HIV” on their back. The meaning of this action was to highlight the fact that the Ministry passivity equals the sentencing of PUD to HIV, e.g. to disease and social marginalization.

At least 8 televisions and radio stations and journalists from 5 magazines and newspapers were present, creating the first occasion in Romania to openly talk and discuss about the needs of people who use drugs.

After the protest, the Romanian Harm Reduction Network had a meeting with MoH representatives and we discussed the emergency of the situation. In the next days, the National Infectious Diseases Institute Matei Bals, the institution nominated by MoH to coordinate HIV prevention among MARPs initiated the syringe procurement procedures. 169,000 syringes were procured in July. A cooperation protocol between the Institute and RHRN was signed by the end of July.

New actions are taken into consideration in order to ask for more governmental support for the project conducted by four RHRN member organizations on needle and syringes distribution and that will finish by 30th of October.

Lead organisation: Romanian Harm Reduction Network (RHRN)

Media coverage in Romania