Pubdate: Fri, 20 Nov 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist
Author: Derek Peach


VIHA has done a surprising job of advertising a step backward as a
step forward. It is abandoning plans to open a fixed-site needle
exchange advocated by every international and national drug research
agency and its own commissioned reports, and says this "expands the
distribution methods and venues."

It says the expansion will come from "possibly other locations
including pharmacies and other non-profit agency partners," although
no one seems to have asked or offered training to any of those partners.

The group that might have advised VIHA, its own needle exchange
advisory committee, is disbanded. VIHA quoted statistics showing
decreased infection rates among injection drug users until 2008, but
neglected to say that was the year it closed the only fixed-site
exchange and never mentioned the impact of increases in crack smoking.

We are now at pre-2008 levels of health care. There will be no centre
for counselling or primary health care services where they are needed
because of the arbitrary "no-go zone" for needle services, but we are
asked to believe that a largely immobile and stigmatized clientele
will seek out such resources in pharmacies or doctors' offices.

VIHA could have saved newspaper space if it had said:

"We failed. We ignored our own research and stated policy direction
and reversed our decisions to provide adequate health care to all
people in Victoria. Our actions will contribute to increased public
health costs, degradation of our urban environment, greater expenses
in law enforcement and death. Go watch the Olympics."

Derek Peach

Central Saanich
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