Turning Point Scotland helped bring a range of UK and international experts in the field of public health and social welfare to the Glasgow Science Centre  for City Health 2013.

Among the many powerful and informed discussions, delegates heard about lessons learnt from Sydney’s Medically Supervised Injecting Room and the call for a renewed approach to avoid a concentration of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in marginalised communities.

The founding Medical Director of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in Sydney, Australia, the first in the English speaking world, said that the MSIC, established in 2001, was a successful local solution to both public health and public order issues associated with street-based drug injecting due in large part due its engagement with the local community.

The UK government this week announced that it had no plans to allow drug consumption rooms after Ron Hogg, the crime commissioner for Durham publicly called for safe injecting rooms. Hogg  cited the public health success of such centres around the world.

“The sustainability of harm reduction service provision on the ground will ultimately rest on the legitimacy of the provider in the eyes of the community,” said Dr Ingrid van Beek, now Director of the Kirketon Centre in Sydney, Australia.

“But providers need to be conscious from the outset of the often common perception that they are ‘outsiders’ coming into the community to foist their client base onto the ‘legitimate’ community. To be recognised as full members service providers need to gain local community respect and understanding, which requires a genuine long term commitment to being part of the community team to achieve solutions for all its residents and not just for their particular constituency.”

Some 250 researchers, scientists, policy makers and public health service providers attended the City Health 2013 conference held November 4-5 at the Science Centre in Glasgow.

City Health 2013 was organised by Knowledge-Action-Change in partnership with Turning Point Scotland, The Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and Esprit de Bois.

The conference covered a wide range of urban health issues including sexual health, club drugs, alcohol policy, policing, sex work, migration and harm reduction. The conference featured a special focus on public health in Scotland including a special panel discussion on HIV in Scotland with Professor Michel Kazatchkine, Dr Roy Robertson and Georgina Perry.

Delegates were addressed by  Professor Michel Kazatchkine, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia who delivered the Alison Chesney & Eddie Killoran Memorial Lecture.

Kazatchkine told delegates that despite the huge success in responding to the epidemic over the past three decades, an urgent re-adjustment of global HIV/AIDS policy is required to avoid a concentration of the epidemic amongst those most affected by the virus a phenomena with the potential to be exacerbated by urbanisation.

“It is the AIDS response that has generated extraordinary hope, hope that it may indeed be possible to end major epidemics in poor countries,” said Kazatchkine. “Hope that we see reflected in headlines that predict “the end of AIDS”, or the possibility of an “AIDS-free generation” in our lifetimes.

“Sadly, this is not the whole story because we may contrast this progress with the failure to respond effectively to HIV among so-called “key affected populations” – people who inject drugs (PWID), sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM) and prisoners, as well as migrant and transgender populations, among whom the response to AIDS has often been a story of indifference and neglect.

“There is a crucial need for a renewed health agenda to continue to drive equity, human rights and hope, to so many worldwide, to those who need it most. If we do not deliver the right response, we will fail to deliver an end to AIDS globally,” concluded Kazatchkine.

You can download a copy of the full speech Michel Kazatckine speech City Health Glasgow and also Michel Kazatchkine City Health 2013 opinion piece to find out more about his fascinating insight into the global issue of HIV/AIDS.

Glasgow City Council hosted a civic reception attended by Bailie Philip Braat, who assists the Lord Provost’s office in welcoming visitors to the city.

David Stuckler, Senior Research Leader in Sociology Oxford University, England, closed the conference with his thought-provoking polemic ‘Why austerity kills: economic policy and the impact on public health and wellbeing’.

Finally, the 2013 Paolo Pertica Award was made to Mohamad Shahbazi, who works for UNDP in Iran, for his work in developing the ‘Fusion’ and ‘Umbrella’ models for peer education, in prisons in Iran.

Among the many other programme highlights included:

  • Georgina Perry, Open Doors NHS Trust, England, Migrant sex workers: myths and realities
  • Katy McLeod, Crew 2000, Club drugs and legal highs
  • Judith Robertson, Head, Oxfam Scotland, Winners and Losers in the new economic times
  • Professor Carol Tannahill, Director, Glasgow Centre for Population Health, Scotland, What makes a good city? Beyond Diagnostics

The Handover to City Health 2014 to be held in Amsterdam was made to one of the co-hosts represented by Anke van Dam. If you would like to attend next year’s event in the Netherlands visit http://www.cityhealthinternational.org/2014 for updates.

The organisers would like to thank all of the delegates, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and the staff at the Glasgow Science Centre for playing their part in helping to make the event such a success.

The event attracted media coverage in Scotland, among leading medical journals and from international correspondents, helping to raise awareness of some of the important issues being discussed.

Michel  Kazatchkine was a guest on BBC Radio Scotland’s John Beattie show while STV news ran a feature on their flagship 6pm evening news programme.

You can also read a flavour of the coverage of some of our keynote speakers:

 

 

About the City Health 2013 organisers:

Knowledge-Action-Change

Knowledge-Action-Change is an independent organisation committed to the development and promotion of evidence-based policies and interventions in the field of substance use and related areas of public health and public policy. The organisational ethos is to link knowledge transfer and organisational development to achieve impact at relevant organisational, community, national and international levels.

www.kachange.eu

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the national body representing the interests of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises.  The Scottish third sector turns over £4.5 billion a year and employs 138,000 people in over 45,000 organisations.

www.scvo.org.uk

Turning Point Scotland

Turning Point Scotland provides support to thousands of people with a variety of challenging and complex issues such as learning disabilities, autism, neurological conditions, substance misuse, homelessness, mental health and criminal justice. Operating from 180 locations across Scotland the organisation provides a diverse range of services depending on the needs of the individual.

www.turningpointscotland.com

Esprit de Bois

Esprit de Bois Services works with a range of partners on developing events and conferences. Directors Teresa Williams and Andy Stonard have three decades of experience working in the drug and alcohol treatment and policy field in the UK and as onsite partners at major global health events and conferences.

www.espritdebois.org