Pubdate: Mon, 13 Mar 2000
Source: Belfast Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: 2000 Belfast Telegraph Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Darwin Templeton


THE government today gave the go-ahead for Ulster's first needle
exchange scheme for drug addicts.

Ministers have agreed funding for the controversial project, which
will be operated through pharmacies in a number of areas afflicted by
heroin use.

Sites have not yet been finalised, but are likely to include Ballymena
and North Down.

The Department of Health will work with health boards and local drugs
co-ordination teams to run the service.

In all, the government unveiled pay-outs of more than pounds 2 million
for 16 anti-drugs projects over the next two years.

They are backing a major province-wide initiative to take the
anti-drugs message to schools and youth clubs and to train teachers,
youth club leaders, parents and governors.

Support is also being given for a project to provide education and
treatment projects in Hydebank young offenders' centre and Magilligan

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Henrietta Campbell, said: "Drug misuse is
increasingly an issue which causes widespread concern among parents.

"The projects being funded have the potential to make a real
difference in educating our young people about the dangers of the
drugs, and reducing the harm caused by drugs to individuals and the
wider community."

Stormont minister Adam Ingram said: "In arriving at my decisions, I
took account of the aims of the drug strategy and, in particular, the
government's commitment to give priority to bids from areas with
clearly identified drug problems and to those projects which involved
partnerships across the statutory, community and voluntary sectors."

Mr Ingram encouraged groups who missed out and other community and
voluntary groups to bid for the next round of funding.
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