Pubdate: Tue, 11 Feb 2003
Source: Surrey Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Surrey Leader
Author: Kevin Diakiw


The future of Whalley's needle exchange will be the subject of debate 
between the city and regional health authority over the next month as the 
two parties explore alternate ways to deliver the service.

Mayor Doug McCallum met last Wednesday with Dr. Gulzar Cheema, the 
provincial minister in charge of addictions services, and the Fraser Health 
Authority (FHA) to discuss the future of the Surrey's needle exchange.

Last week, McCallum told a representative of the exchange he wanted the 
facility shut down "immediately," drawing criticism from health authorities 
and local MLAs.

The needle exchange, opened in Whalley in 1992, provides 15,000 syringes a 
month to intravenous drug users, as part of a program to reduce diseases 
such as hepatitis C and HIV. It's part of the province's "harm-reduction" 
strategy, and the group that manages the Surrey needle exchange holds the 
provincial contract for the service until September 2003.

McCallum described last week's meeting with Cheema as "very positive," 
adding the health authority agreed to explore alternative methods of needle 

However, Cheema told The Leader Friday that he's asked the health authority 
and city to work out their differences, and said that no decision regarding 
alternate forms of delivery has been made.

Cheema says the Whalley needle exchange is an excellent facility with a 
proven track record.

"My belief is that the Whalley needle exchange is a model service, and they 
have provided great service in the past and they should continue to provide 
that service."

Cheema acknowledges that the province, health authority and city have 
varying opinions about how the service should be delivered. McCallum is 
expected to meet with the health authority next week to work out details of 
the needle exchange service.

Cheema expects a progress report "soon."

"They have to resolve this -- there is no other choice...the sooner the 
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens