Pubdate: Wed, 26 May 2010
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Times Colonist
Author: Derek Peach, Times Colonist


The Vancouver Island Health Authority plans 10 needle exchange
facilities on Vancouver Island, four in Victoria suburbs, by year's

We learned the 10 needle exchange facilities will offer minimal
services and probably not attract any new clients. They will provide
addiction counselling or extended health care monitoring of injection
drug users.

We learned that exchange programs already operate at many "fixed
sites" such as health centres and pharmacies, although they lack any
of the services commonly associated with a needle exchange.

And that VIHA is committed to harm reduction principles of making
clean needles and crack-smoking supplies available to drug users, even
if those principles have not yet translated into action.

Data showed that borrowing used needles has fallen by half over the
last four years, although no data showed how many former injection
users had switched to inhalation use because of the shortage of clean

Representatives from other municipalities have already started NIMBY

The people afflicted with drug addiction might come from all strata of
society and have gravitated to the urban core where drugs are sold,
but Saanich's Frank Leonard, Esquimalt's Barb Desjardins and
Langford's Denise Blackwell have already expressed "concerns."

We have municipalities once more attempting to dictate how VIHA handle
a public health crisis that causes more deaths than the H1N1 or SARS
ever did.

The truth is that it is all our neighbourhood and these are all our
citizens -- someone's brother or sister or child. Every study shows
needle exchanges will save enormous amounts of tax money. Act out of
basic compassion; the financial and human benefits will follow.

Derek Peach

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