Pubdate: Fri, 30 Oct 2009
Source: Prairie Post East (CN SN)
Copyright: 2009 Prairie Post
Author: Devon Floyd


Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the throne speech announcement concerning
the reduction of needle exchange services in Saskatchewan.  The
consequences of this decision will not only affect injection drug
users in this province, but will also place an unnecessary burden on
the health-care system and community at large.

As you should be well aware of, the Needle Exchange Program Review
conducted by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health in early 2009
identified a clear link between needle exchange services and the
reduction of the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and
Hepatitis C in this province; the review estimated that needle
exchange programs are essential in reducing costs to Saskatchewan's
already overburdened health-care system.

The 2009 Needle Exchange Program Review commended provincial
distribution rates and said that Saskatchewan was a leader in harm
reduction services not only in Canada, but also around the world.
This is a reputation we should be proud of, as it displays our
willingness to embrace innovative solutions to difficult problems.

It has been proven that addiction to injection drugs are usually
rooted in conditions of poverty, childhood sexual abuse and neglect,
lack of education and employment, and racism.  Injection drug use
isn't a simple issue, and it doesn't have a simple solution. By
providing users with clean needles and easy access to drop-off points,
we are not only decreasing the spread of blood-borne diseases, but are
also showing them that we are not ignoring or neglecting their real

The province-wide needle exchange return rate is 90 per cent, and some
of Saskatchewan's exchange programs return rates rank amongst the
highest in Canada.  This means there are very few needles left on the
street or disposed of in garbage cans.  It also shows the majority of
the injection drug using community has taken responsibility to use the
services provided to them.

The spread of blood-borne disease is a serious issue in Saskatchewan
which calls for responsible and intelligent solutions.

It requires hard work, proactive decision making, and capable
leadership. Please help us in being part of the solution.

Devon Floyd

Community development coordinator

Carmichael Outreach Inc., Regina 
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