Athens Recognized for Drug Overdose Prevention at Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit
Athens was among the five global cities recognized for achievements in preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries during the inaugural Partnership for Healthy Cities summit recently held in London.
The summit brought together mayors and officials from more than 50 major cities in the partnership, which is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vital Strategies, to discuss urgent public health concerns and best practices that save lives and create healthier cities.
During the summit, Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies Founder and WHO Global Ambassador Michael R. Bloomberg presented the 2023 Partnership for Healthy Cities Awards, recognizing the work of the five winning cities in making sustainable and lasting strides toward NCD and injury prevention, with each city receiving US $150,000 to further their work with the partnership.
Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis accepted the award on behalf of the Municipality of Athens and the Organization Against Drugs (OKANA), the Organization Against Addictions (KETHEA), the Hellenic Scientific Society for the Study of AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, HLPA Prometheus and the Greek Association of People Living with HIV “Positive Voice” who joined their efforts in overdose prevention at the Greek capital.
“This recognition gives us strength to continue our work,” said Bakoyannis underlining that “the real reward though will be seeing drug users getting a second chance in life”.
Since 2020, the Municipality of Athens along local organizations and NGOs combating drug abuse, developed the first housing program for homeless people who inject drugs in downtown Athens.
The program has provided housing, access to therapeutic services, healthcare, counseling, and legal support, along with programs for social reintegration.
According to data collected by the Greek Monitoring Centre for Drugs (EKTEPN) drug use in Athens has been a growing issue for many decades.
Among the 12.351 people at high risk for opioid drug use in Greece last year, 6.252 were in Athens.
At the same time, a recent University of Athens research indicated that between 2018 and 2022 Greece’s drug related mortality was the highest when compared to that of US, Canada, Australia western and central European countries, with 240 people dying among the 2.406 drug users who were under prevention surveillance.