Pubdate: Tue, 15 Apr 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Times Colonist
Author: Perry Kendall, Provincial Health Officer


At 6 p.m. on a Friday in Ottawa, the federal government released the
final report of the Expert Advisory Committee on Supervised Injection
Site Research.

One might wonder why the federal government would not have availed
itself of the services of the independent Canadian Academy of Health
Sciences. Its first two objectives are to serve as a credible, expert
and independent assessor of science and technology issues relevant to
the health of Canadians, and to support the development of timely,
informed and strategic advice on urgent health issues.

Nonetheless the hand-picked committee, whose membership included an
RCMP chair in crime reduction, delivered a report that in essence
confirmed the findings of 24 published and peer-reviewed papers from
the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV-AIDS.

These findings show that InSite has had no measurable negative impacts
on the community around it and had significant benefits for the
attendees, in particular in helping them access addictions treatments.

The expert committee dismissed concerns that the operation of InSite
"sends the wrong message" to non-users by suggesting that drug use can
be safe. To the contrary, the committee members "propose that
publicity surrounding SIS (supervised injection sites) serves mainly
to draw attention to the dangers of addiction and the miseries of addicts."

The findings should hopefully settle the question of whether or not
InSite performs a useful and important function in addressing the
complex challenges of addiction and mental illness.

Clearly it does.

Now is the time for the federal minister of health to stop the pretext
of looking for more research, to put any ideological concerns behind
him and to allow B.C. to provide evidence-based and demonstrably
effective health services to those who can benefit from them, wherever
they may happen to be.

Perry Kendall

Provincial Health Officer

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