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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: Crack-Smoking Kit Program To Be Expanded In Nanaimo
Title:CN BC: Crack-Smoking Kit Program To Be Expanded In Nanaimo
Published On:2012-01-21
Source:Nanaimo Daily News (CN BC)
Fetched On:2012-01-24 06:04:29

Officials Say Harm Reduction Benefits the Public by Reducing Spread Of

Nanaimo addicts will soon have more places to get free kits containing
needles, condoms and crack-smoking paraphernalia.

Vancouver Island Health Authority is expanding a program to distribute
harm reduction kits around the Island, including Nanaimo.

Last year VIHA started distributing kits with crack pipe mouthpieces,
syringes and other items in Nanaimo as part of its secondary harm
reduction program, geared to discreetly reducing the spread of disease
among addicts. Another two new locations will be added.

Since the program began, Dr. Paul Hasselback became the new medical
health officer. He backs harm reduction programs.

No numbers are available for how effective the program has been in
Nanaimo to date but B.C.'s harm-reduction program is modeled after a
highly successful model first used in Switzerland.

The secondary harm-reduction program involves discreetly distributing
the kits from undisclosed areas. It grew from public concerns arose
over addicts con-gregating in high-traffic health service sites in
Nanaimo and Victoria.

Hasselback, who has seen harm reduction programs work elsewhere in the
province, sees public health benefits in them the public should support.

Distributing crack-smoking equipment is controversial, but "we
wouldn't be having this debate if we were talking doctor's offices,
public health clinics or counselling services for mental health
clients," Hasselback said.

Harm-reduction kits include packs of syringes, alcohol swabs, water
vials, filters and packs of vitamin C, mouthpieces, push sticks,
condoms and personal lubricant packs. Contact information for
addiction programs is also included.

The first phase of the program went into effect last year. Since then
it has gone smoothly.

"We have had no problems with disruption or (public) congregation,"
said Shannon Marshall, VIHA spokeswoman.

"We had anticipated all along these sites would not be high-volume points."

Since then health officials have begun the second phase of the
program, identifying additional locations and determining their
suitability, based on their size, layout and other factors.

Five new sites are coming in the central Island, including two in Nanaimo.

"By having distribution around the community it would eliminate
congregation, and that has been the case," Marshall said.
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