New York, NY – Dr. Nabila El-Bassel, professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work and Director of the Global Health Research Center in Central Asia (GHRCCA), has received a one-year grant from the Open Society Institute. This grant will support the Advocacy & Assessment of Naloxone in Central Asia Project in regional advocacy initiatives and evidence-based programs for the peer distribution of Naloxone to opiate users and their support network members in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
In Central Asia, the number of fatal drug overdoses is underreported and not systematically collected; however, anecdotal data suggests that at least two-thirds of injecting drug users (IDUs) will overdose during their lifetime. Overdose victims frequently survive if medical attention is received in an “overdose window period” of 1-3 hours. Because of this relative small window for providing medical attention to reverse overdose, there is an urgent need to rely on peer knowledge, skills, and administration of life-saving medicine like Naloxone to save lives. In Kazakhstan, Naloxone is legal but is only available in emergency medical care services.
“We are collaborating with governments and donors to purchase and widely distribute Naloxone to different health care facilities, NGOs, and trust point services,” says Dr. El-Bassel. “Distribution and peer administration of Naloxone as a take-home antidote for IDUs is critical to significantly reducing overdose fatalities and disabilities among IDUs.”
The Project aims to advance advocacy efforts to make Naloxone available directly to those who are in need: IDUs, their peers, people who use prescribed narcotics, emergency care and medical facilities, and others. The first step is to develop advocacy strategies along with the support of local NGOs followed by a systematic collection of data on overdose and Naloxone availability. This data will be collected and analyzed by region, then prepared and disseminated to key stake holders who can advance policy and program initiatives.
In addition to Dr. El-Bassel, the project will be implemented by GHRCCA's Regional Director Assel Terlikbayeva, Director of Regional Projects Sholpan Primbetova, and Representative in Kyrgyzstan Danil Nikitin.
Established in 2007, the Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA) is a multi-disciplinary research Center designed to develop and scale up sustainable solutions to address emerging health and social challenges in Central Asia and also in Mongolia. The Center’s work is focused in for core activity areas: Research, Education, Training, and Policy & Dissemination. Through multi-disciplinary partnerships at Columbia University, in the US and the Central Asia region, GHRCCA is conducting research, advancing solutions and developing scientific capacity and infrastructure in the US and Central Asia to address the health and social issues in the region.
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