Simona Merkinaite

Member of the Programme Committee.

Since the end of 2008 Simona acts as Drug Policy project coordinator at the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN), including provission of support  to and overview of country activities, advocacy of evidence based and human rights based policies in countries, regional and international levels, documentation of policies in focus countries. She also represents the EHRN in the International Drug Policy Consortium and manages the EHRN drug policy list.

Simona has been a part of the EHRN team from 2004 and since then she has gained experience in working in all areas of EHRN work, including (1) documentation and research on variety of topics, such as documentation of hepatitis epidemiology, policy, prevention, diagnostics, treatment and care in the new EU member states and neighbourhood, research on undiagnosed hepatitis in Europe, assessment on young injectors, including stimulant injectors, policy and health in selected Central and Eastern European countries; (2) technical support and capacity building, including orgranization of regional consultations and trainings, national discussions and round tables building dialogue between national policymakers, health care providers, harm reduction and drug user community activists, assessments of needs for technical support and training (for Harm Reduction Knowledge Hub for Europe); (3) networking and information exchange  - in 2004 developing and managing a bi-lingual monthly electronic digest, putting spotlight on key regional and international events and connecting the members.

Apart from work at EHRN Simona has done consultancy for international organizations in harm reduction and HIV field, including International Harm Reduction Association, AIDS Action Europe, as well as national entities, such as Vilnius Center for Addictive Dissorders.

Currently Simona is also a PhD student in Political and Social Sciences at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, with key academic interests in social equality, collective identity and rights. Has MA in Comparative Politics. Simona speaks fluent Lithuanian and has advantaged knowledge of English, Russian; Polish and Italian basics.

Recent publications of Simona Merkinaite

International Harm Reduction Association, Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (2010) Briefing to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on Ukraine’s 4th periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Injecting drug use, sex work and HIV among children and adolescents at risk. Sumbitted by Eurasian harm reduction Network and International Harm reduction Association.

Merkinaite, S., Grund, JP., Flimpond A. (2010) Young people and drugs: Next generation of harm reduction. International Journal of Drug Policy 21 (2010) 112–114

Stuikyte R., Otiashvili, D., Merkinaite, S., Sarang, A., Tolopilo, A. (2009). The impact of drug policy on health and human rights in Eastern Europe: 10 years after UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs. Vilnius: Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN)

EHRN (2009) Young people and injecting drug use in selected countries of Central and Eastern Europe.Grund, PJ., Merkinaite (ed.), Vilnius: Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN)

Merkinaite, S., Lazarus, J., Gore, C., (2008) Addressing HCV Infection in Europe: Reported, Estimated and Undiagnosed Cases, Central European Journal of Public Health 2008;16 (3): 106–110

About EHRN

EHRN is a regional network that since 1997 has been a powerful agent of change in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia – advancing evidence-based measures to reduce the harms caused by drug use and drug policies and promoting public health and human rights. EHRN is a collaborative network of individual and institutional members. As of early 2010, there were 164 members, half Russian-speaking, half English-speaking, based throughout Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and worldwide. These included drug treatment and policy agencies, public-health experts and researchers, health- and social-service providers, drug users, people living with HIV, DU community groups and others.