Pubdate: Tue, 30 Apr 2002
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Perry Kendall
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


I write to clarify my support for supervised injection sites and the city 
of Vancouver's four pillars approach to substance abuse. The April 26 
headline "Injection sites touted as 'best chance'" suggested that I 
championed supervised injection sites as "Vancouver's best chance" for 
addressing the significant health and social problems associated with 
injection drug use in the Downtown Eastside.

But I would like to clarify my position. I support the four pillars 
approach -- prevention, enforcement, treatment and harm reduction in a 
balanced and coordinated strategy -- as being the "best chance" of 
responding to these complex problems. During the "scrum" following my 
presentation to city council, this response was reported and associated 
specifically with the issue of supervised sites.

I strongly support and advocate for a scientific trial of supervised 
injection sites in the Vancouver context. The information from Europe and 
Australia suggests that as part of a coordinated and balanced approach such 
sites can play a critical role in reducing deaths and infections, improving 
public order and attracting persons who use drugs into care and treatment.

Would they be effective in Vancouver? We cannot know this without evaluated 
pilots, but to my mind the evidence is robust enough that we should not 
turn our backs on a promising intervention. Until such trials have 
occurred, however, it would be premature to characterize such sites as 
either "best chances" or "wrong-headed" approaches.

Perry Kendall, MD

Provincial Health Officer

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