Pubdate: Sat, 19 Mar 2016
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2016 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Petra Schulz
Page: A17


Re: Focus On Harm Reduction, Katrina Pacey and Donald MacPherson; Canada 
Causes Stir At UN Drug Conference, both, March 17.

I applaud the assistant deputy minister of health, Hillary Geller, on
her public support for harm reduction, including supervised injection
services, at the UN Narcotic Drug conference in Vienna. We need
supervised injections services exactly because narcotics like heroin
and fentanyl are dangerous. Providing medical supervision during
consumption save lives, increase uptake into treatment, reduces crime
and prevents related diseases. These facts are proved by numerous
studies, looking at outcomes at Insite in Vancouver and more than 60
sites worldwide.

Since 2011, almost 500 Albertans have died of a fentanyl overdose -
this is not counting the overdose deaths attributed to other opioids -
and the trends in other provinces are similar. Our son Danny died in
2014 at age 25; since then we have seen a 126 per cent increase in
death rates. The numbers keep on rising - last year's numbers were
equal to a jetliner crashing in an Alberta field. Would we stand by
and do nothing if we had annual jetliner crashes? Supervised injection
sites save lives and dead people never recover. So let's keep them
alive with effective, harm-reduction measures, so they can make a
better decision on another day.

Petra Schulz, Edmonton
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