Over the past two months, representatives from the Georgian national drug observatory (NDO) and other Georgian experts have participated in a range of EMCDDA expert meetings and training courses under the agency’s first bilateral technical cooperation project with the country. The EMCDDA4Georgia project (EMCDDA4GE), launched in May 2021, aims to enhance national responses to drug-related health and security threats and familiarise the agency’s Georgian partners with the EU drug information system and its methodologies and tools. The project focuses primarily on knowledge transfer and capacity-building in the areas of drug monitoring, reporting, prevention and treatment.
In October, the focus was on health, with NDO staff participating in the EMCDDA’s drug-related deaths (DRD) expert meeting (1 October) and drug-related infectious diseases (DRID) meeting (26–27 October). During the former, the delegates were introduced to the monitoring and reporting tools used at the EMCDDA in this area. The EMCDDA4GE work programme has planned further support to the NDO on the DRD indicator through a tailored research activity.
At the DRID meeting, representatives from the NDO and the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health presented the results of a study conducted in 2020 on the cascade of care for hepatitis C virus (HCV) among people on methadone substitution treatment. The HCV cascade of care describes successive stages from disease identification to cure. The targets of the World Health Organization for hepatitis C virus elimination include diagnosing 90% of people with HCV and treating 80% of people diagnosed with HCV by 2030. During the meeting, it was concluded that people on methadone substitution treatment might become the first HCV micro-elimination target population in Georgia.
The exchange of expertise promoted by EMCDDA4GE not only focuses on health-related indicators but also on security threats. In November, representatives from the Georgian NDO attended the EMCDDA Reference Group on Drug Supply Indicators (24 November). A Georgian police officer will also participate in the CEPOL–EMCDDA training course on ‘Drug crime and markets — strategic analysis’ in Budapest (30 November–3 December). This training will provide useful insights on EU drug markets and the role of the neighbours of the EU, as well as on strategic analysis. It has an additional purpose to improve monitoring and reporting skills related to drug crime and markets.
EMCDDA4GE is being implemented by the EMCDDA and funded by the European Union. The EMCDDA and Georgia have a long tradition of cooperation, illustrated, among others, by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the agency and the Georgian Ministry of Justice in 2015, which is currently being updated. The EMCDDA4GE project builds on the achievements and results of previous, and current, EMCDDA technical cooperation projects involving the country.