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UAlbany Partners with Turkish Government on Developing Patient-Focused Drug Policies

Global Institute of Health and Human Rights Hosts Delegation for Tour of North American Cities

UAlbany's Global Institute of Health and Human Rights is working to improve drug policies in Turkey.

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 25, 2016) -- The University at Albany’s Global Institute of Health and Human Rights (GIHHR) is hosting nine senior policy leaders from Turkey for an international tour of facilities and services to support recovering drug addicts. The goal is to assist the delegation to be familiar with North American approaches to drug policy, and shifting the global perspective of drug users away from a criminal-focused approach, and toward a patient-focused approach.

The delegation, high-level representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, universities, and public and private services in Turkey, is visiting New York, Seattle and Vancouver to tour facilities and services for drug addicts, drug-related harm, and people living with HIV/AIDS. They will meet with a number of American and Canadian policy makers, judges, police officers, health care workers, and other professionals in hopes of taking home models and approaches that can be adapted in their country.

The tour, encompassing the following cities, concludes on April 27:

  • New York: Participants spent four days visiting numbers of community-based education and harm-reduction programs, residential facilities, outpatient treatment centers, and syringe exchange programs. They will also have the opportunity to meet with judges and observe the New York City Criminal Court, as well as visit health facilities in the Rikers Island Jail. The stakeholders will attend the UNGASS, which is focused on world drug policy, and have the opportunity to enter discussions on drug policy with the representatives of over 170 countries in attendance.
  • Seattle: The participants will make a site visit to the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), an innovative pilot program that allows law enforcement offers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug activity to community-based services, instead of facing harsh jail time and prosecution.
  • Vancouver: The stakeholders will spend two days touring numerous progressive programs in drug policy. The participants will visit service providing and harm reduction centers with holistic and compassionate approaches to helping drug users. Many of these service agencies address the needs of special populations such as pregnant and new mothers who are struggling with drug use, drug users living with HIV/AIDS, and systematically marginalized aboriginal people who use drugs.

Site visits will also include social enterprises, such as coffee and newspaper shops, that employ individuals who struggle with addiction. The participants will also meet with professionals from legal organizations, such as the Downtown Community Court and Pivot Legal Society, which focus on underlying issues of poverty and inequality as contributors for drug use, and utilize community organizations and services as a key player in crime reduction.

The stakeholders will also have visits to unique facilities such as methadone treatment facilities, and Insite Supervised Injection Site, the only public legally sanctioned supervised injection site in North America.

About the UAlbany’s GIHHR

The Global Institute for Health and Human Rights was founded by Drs. Kamiar Alaei and Arash Alaei in 2012. The Institute has a number of ongoing international projects in the areas of global drug policy, environment, international health law, criminal justice, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, human rights-based approach to health advocacy, research and policy. It strives to be interdisciplinary in both analysis of global health issues and in its approach to addressing them.

Arash Alaei is a a clinical associate professor of health policy management and behavior at UAlbany's School of Public Health.

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