Central and Eastern European Summit 2023

15-16 June 2023 | Clarion Congress Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic

Hepatitis C, HIV and Other Infections
Screening, Linkage to Care and Treatment



The organisation Podané ruce, along with other partners, organised a two-day conference in June on the topic of infectious diseases and health in people with addictions. Experts from the Czech Republic and abroad gathered in Prague to exchange knowledge and experiences from their respective practices.

The Clarion Congress hotel in Prague was filled with Czech and international experts from the healthcare, social, and public services sectors. They engaged in discussions on topics such as early diagnosis, continuity of care, and treatment of viral hepatitis C (HCV), HIV, and other infectious diseases, especially among drug users. „In the Czech Republic, we have successfully managed to control HIV and hepatitis C infections. However, the numbers are still not as desired. We need to push for a change in the system – invest more money in treatment and prevention and find more efficient ways to bridge the gap between the healthcare system and people on the margins of society,“ remarked Jindřich Vobořil, Director of Podané ruce, during the conference’s opening discussion.

The primary objective of the summit was to promote the dissemination of good practices and facilitate the exchange of experiences among experts specializing in infectious diseases among individuals who use addictive substances. „Podané ruce has been dedicated to the prevention of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C since its beginnings. Each year, around 11,000 individuals at high risk of infection come to our centres. By conducting screening, we annually identify several hundred cases of hepatitis C. This disease poses a deadly danger, often remaining undetected for years. We call it a silent epidemic,“ explained Jindřich Vobořil.

Summit delegates had the opportunity to partake in presentations offering various perspectives on the issue of infectious diseases. In addition to healthcare professionals, representatives of groups affected by this issue and working with drug users also delivered presentations. Notable speakers of the summit included Doc. Viktor Mravčík, Director of Research and Education at Podané ruce; Jindřich Vobořil, CEO of of Podané ruce; Prof. Petr Urbánek, Head of the Internal Clinic at the 1st Faculty of Medicine of Charles University and the Central Military Hospital; Dr. Soňa Franková from the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine; and Dr. Jan Bodnar, Deputy Director of the General Health Insurance Company for Healthcare. International experts included, Ganna Dovbahk, Executive Director of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association; Tessa Windelickx, Coordinator of the NGO Free Clinic; Ligia Parodi from EuroNPUD, and others shared their insights at the conference.

For me, it is important to emphasize the role of outreach and harm reduction services as the frontline and entry point for any screening, treatment, care, and support for HCV, HIV, or tuberculosis – especially in times of crisis when vulnerable people become even more vulnerable,“ explained Ganna Dovbahk, Executive Director of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association.

I believe that our international cooperation will deepen even further in the future. I am a proponent of the idea that we still have a lot to learn from each other and draw inspiration from practices abroad,“ concluded Jindřich Vobořil at the conference closing panel discussion.

The entire event was simultaneously interpreted into Czech and English with accreditation provided with ten credits by the Czech Medical Chamber, as part of continuous education (ID 111344).

The official media partner of the conference is Zdravotnický deník. Other partners of CEES 2023 include the Society of Infectious Medicine, the Czech Hepatology Society, Podané ruce Clinic, the Society for Addictive Diseases, Healgen, MediMedi, Correlation European Harm Reduction Network, the nonprofit organization SANANIM, the Euroasian Harm Reduction Association, the National Screening Centre, and the Institute of Health Information and Statistics of the Czech Republic.

The beautiful capital city of Prague, within the heart of Europe, is to host a summit to look into the gaps and needs to link infectious diseases screening of those vulnerable, especially people who use drugs (PWUD) with care and treatment follow up. It brings together professionals from a wide range of disciplines.

The conference is organised by Spolecnost Podane ruce o.p.s., the largest non-governmental organisation in the Czech Republic offering expert social and health services in the field of addictions through its 50+ centres and 3 regions of Czech Republic.


15-16 June 2023


Clarion Congress Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic


International audience of 200+ participants from Czechia and Central and Eastern Europe from a wide range of disciplines

About the Conference

The conference brings together over two hundred professionals: practitioners treating hepatitis C and infectious diseases specialists, professionals from both medical and drug services (harm reduction programmes, opioid substitution treatment centres, as well as prison services and outpatient clinics), researchers, policymakers, advocates and community members, to discuss and share knowledge, ideas and good practice.

Covering the latest advances on hepatitis and other drug-related infections such as HIV and STIs, epidemiology, access to treatment, linkage to care, management and treatment of viral hepatitis especially among people who use drugs, continuum of care enhancement and guidelines for the treatment with Direct Acting Antivirals (DAAs), the conference presents itself as an ideal forum for knowledge exchange. Sharing good practices and models of care between practitioners from different countries will be beneficial for all actors in the field. The main topics of the event will be linkage to care, looking into how to integrate screening for Hepatitis C -treatment and HIV among hard-to reach communities, such as PWUD, and increase treatment uptake and adherence.

This is a unique opportunity for networking and bringing together diverse professionals such as medical practitioners, social workers, public health specialists, service managers, stakeholders  who can share their experience with others.

Clarion Congress Hotel****


More than 70 million people worldwide are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).  Chronic HCV can lead to liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and premature death.  People who use drugs are disproportionately affected not only by HCV but also by other transmissible or systemic infections. Globally, around 11 million people inject drugs, with approximately 1 in 8 of them living with HIV. Injecting drug use accounts for approximately 10% of new HIV infections, and an estimated 23–39% of new HCV infections occur among people who inject drugs worldwide. In some regions, such as Eastern Europe, prevalence rates among the population using drugs for both HIV and HCV are particularly high.

Besides the interdisciplinary prevention and harm reduction interventions to reduce risk of infectious diseases and other somatic morbidity, a continuum of complex care is urgently needed. There are multiple barriers within the public health and drug policy systems as well as professionals and patients attitudes and beliefs hampering the early diagnosis and treatment uptake and adherence. Innovative models of care and policy initiatives at local, regional and national levels are needed to improve quality and accessibility of screening, linkage to care and treatment within vulnerable population groups.

Keynote speakers and facilitators:

Jindrich Voboril

National Drug Coordinator of the Czech Republic

Dr. Roman Kraus

Chairperson of the Committee on Health, Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic

Dagmar Hedrich

Independent consultant

prof. Fang Bingliang

Chief scientist of Healgen Scientific

Prof. Petr Urbanek

Society of Hepatology of the Czech Medical Association, Czech Republic

Prim. Dr. Milan Zlamal

Society of Infectious Diseases of the Czech Medical Association, Czech Republic

Tessa Windelinck

Coordinator of NGO Free Clinic, Belgium

Lucie Maskova

Harm reduction section of the Association of providers of addiction services, Czech Republic  

Barbara Janikova

the coordinator of continuum of care of Podane ruce, Czech Republic

Zuzana Nott

Union of people with lived experience of addiction, Czech Republic

Assoc. Prof. Viktor Mravcik

Head of research, Spolecnost Podane ruce, Czech Republic

Dr. Vratislav Rehak

Health care centre Remedis, Prague, the Czech Republic

Dr. Sona Frankova

Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Czech Republic

Dr. Jan Bodnár

Deputy director for health care, General Health Insurance Company, Czech Republic

Ligia Parodi

European Network of People who Use Drugs (EuroNPUD)

Ganna Dovbakh

Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA)


Thursday 15 June

09:00 – 09:30

Roman Kraus, Chairperson of Committee on Health, Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic

 Jan Bodnar, Deputy Director for Health Care, General Health Insurance Company of the Czech Republic

Jindrich Voboril and Viktor Mravcik, Spolecnost Podane ruce

Representatives of Medical Associations

09:30 – 11:00

Hepatitis C point-of-care testing and linkage to care forum

  • Dagmar Hedrich – Infection prevention and care among vulnerable populations: needs, achievements and barriers (Independent Expert)

  • Tessa Windelinck – Building Cascade of Care from the ground up and lessons learned (NGO Free Clinic, Belgium)

  • Sebastian Bayer – Point-of- care testing and linkage to care in Berlin and lessons learned (Fixpunkt e.V., Germany)
  • Ligia Parodi – Elimination of hepatitis C from the People who use drugs perspective (EuroNPUD)
11:00 – 11:30
11:30 – 13:00

Strategies and guidelines

  • Anne Bergenström – Guidance on prevention and control of infectious diseases among people who inject drugs (EMCDDA)
  • Petr Urbanek – HCV screening and elimination strategy in the Czech Republic (Czech Society of Hepatology, Czech Republic)
  • Zofia Bartovska – HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the era of chemsex (Czech Society of Infectious Disease, Czech Republic)
  • Fang Bingliang – Making High Quality Rapid Diagnostic Tests Accessible Globally (sponsored by Healgen)
13:00 – 14:00
14:00 – 15:30
1 & 2

PARALLEL SESSION 1: Models of care (1)

  • Vratislav Rehak – One-stop-shop: 25 years of health services (not only) for people who use drugs in Prague (Health Care Center Remedis, Czech Republic)
  • David Pešek and Ria Al-Halabiova – Harm Reduction centre in Prague with multidisciplinary approach to SLTC HCV (NGO SANANIM, Czech Republic)
  • Sona Frankova – One day to HCV treatment for people who use drugs in Prague (Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Czech Republic)


PARALLEL SESSION 2: Local strategies

  • Lucie Mandelova – Institute of Health Information and Statistics starts National pilot HCV screening project among people who use drugs in Czechia
  • Marek Bezdek – New Infectology Outpatient Clinic in Brno – lessons learned (Private Health Centre Podane Ruce, Czech Republic)
  • Community management plan – how to improve continuum of care at the local level? Project BOOST, facilitator Tessa Windelink and Jukka Koskelo


15:30 – 16:00
16:00 – 17:00
3 & 4

PARALLEL SESSION 3: People in the centre of care

  • Ganna Dovbakh, Dinara Ayapbekova – One year of war in Ukraine. People in need of addiction services ( Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, NGO SANANIM)
  • Zuzana Nott, Barbora Demková – Voice of people who use drugs in policy and practice (Union of People with Addiction Experience, Czech Republic)
  • Xenie Uholyeva, Ph.D. – HCV on the Czech chemsex scene: ping-pong ball principle (Czech AIDS Help Society)


PARALLEL SESSION 4: Models of care (2)

  • Mauro Zaccarelli, Nadia Gasbarini – Point-of-care testing in Rome and lessons learned (NGO Villa Maraini, Italy)
  • Hugo Faria – Model of care of people who use drugs in Lisbon (Ares do Pinhal, Portugal)
  • Lucie Maskova – Point of care testing and lessons learned in outreach program in Brno (NGO Podane Ruce, Czech Republic)


17:00 – 18:00

Panellists are sharing their insights

Facilitator: Viktor Mravcik


Simultaneous English-Czech translation will be available in the main hall.

The conference is credited by the Czech Medical Chamber as part of continuous education with 10 credits (ID 111344) and by Czech Addictologists association (CAA/KK/006/2023).

Friday 16 June

09:00 – 12:00


  • Experience Prague through the eyes of homeless people with Pragulic
  • Visit to multidisciplinary service for PWUD in Prague- Contact Centre SANANIM
  • Visit to clinical HCV centre in Prague – IKEM
  • Visit to the HCV multidisciplinary treatment centre – Remedis
  • Meeting of the Boost project for members of the project team and interested partners (13:00 – 17:00)

Meeting points and further instructions will be communicated during the first day of the conference.

Czech language programme


Registration for Summit 2023 are closed.

Hosting organization

Společnost Podané ruce o.p.s.

Official Media Partner



Thanks to our sponsors for supporting us

Golden sponsor



Clarion Congress Hotel

Freyova 945/33,
190 00 Praha 9-Vysočany


15-16 June 2023

conference programme and organisation
technical support and production

How to get to hotel

The hotel can be found directly at Vysočanská metro station (line B), which takes you to the centre of Prague in 10 minutes. You can walk to the O2 Arena in 5 minutes. The hotel is connected to the Fénix Shopping Gallery with over 80 shops to meet all your wishes and requirements. If you’re coming by car, you’ll be happy to hear that you have the option of parking in an underground parking garage with a car wash. Just don’t forget about any bikes on your roof. This is because the maximum permissible vehicle height is 1.8 m. For your safety, CNG and LPG vehicles are not permitted.

I'm arriving by car from Brno and Vienna via the D1 motorway

Take the D1 motorway towards „Centrum“, turn right in the direction of Karlín and Vysočany, drive for roughly 5 km. Turn right into Českomoravská Street in the direction of the O2 Arena. Drive for roughly 1 km and turn left into Freyova Street. After about 600 metres you will see the Clarion Congress Hotel Prague**** on your left.

I'm arriving by car from the north (E55)

Take the E 55 and when you arrive in Prague turn right at the intersection with Kolbenova Street and continue towards the centre. After about 1 kilometre you will see the Clarion Congress Hotel Prague****.

From the train station

It takes about 15 minutes by taxi to reach the hotel from the Central Train Station or Florenc Bus Station. We can arrange a hotel taxi for the price of CZK 850 (35 EUR). Contact the concierge to make a reservation (concierge.cchp@clarion⁠-⁠hotels.cz+420 211 131 137) or the Reservations Department (reservation.cchp@clarion⁠-⁠hotels.cz+420 211 131 119). Please reserve transfers at least 24 hours in advance.

From the airport

The journey from Václav Havel Airport takes 30⁠-⁠45 minutes by taxi (19.5 km). We can arrange a hotel taxi for the price of CZK 1,350 ( 55 EUR)  from Prague airport to the hotel / CZK 1,350 (55 EUR) from the hotel to Prague airport. Contact the concierge to make a reservation (concierge.cchp@clarion⁠-⁠hotels.cz+420 211 131 137) or the Reservations Department (reservation.cchp@clarion⁠-⁠hotels.cz+420 211 131 119). Please reserve transfers at least 24 hours in advance.

Emergency calls in Prague

112   (European emergency number for health, police, fire)

And the national numbers:

155   (health rescue)

158   (state police)

156   (municipal police)

150   (fire rescue)

Further information on Prague


Czech money may be changed or withdrawn at the airport. Czech currency CZK (ceska koruna) exchange rate is about 23,5 CZK/1 EUR (Czech National Bank cnb.cz). The exchange offices have slightly different exchange rates (for sale of the money). See HERE.