Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jan 2017
Source: Metro (Ottawa, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metro
Author: Haley Ritchie
Page: 4


Machines may be used to give addicts access to clean supplies

Ottawa Public Health is exploring a pilot project that would allow drug
users to access clean needles and pipes from a vending machine.

Deputy Medical Officer of Health Vera Etches said the idea goes back to
2013, when OPH hosted a needs assessment with feedback from community
groups and police looking at service gaps.

"Most services that distribute supplies so people will use sterile
supplies each time and decrease their risk of transmission operate Monday
to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.," she said. "There's no place for people
to access supplies overnight and on weekends."

The vending machines - currently being used in countries like Australia,
Germany and France - have been identified as a possible solution.

In Ottawa the machines might be supplied with things like clean needles,
alcohol swabs, water, pipes and filters. Printed information about
overdose prevention would also be available.

The main goal of the sterile supplies is to decrease the transmission of
diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. Handing out supplies also allows
front-line staff to interact with drug users and provide information about
support programs.

Etches said that eliminating the face-to-face contact was a concern, but
she said the machines won't replace that service. The machines will likely
accept special tokens or a card which will be given out by staff.

"It's a secure feature that only people currently using drugs and
accessing services will be able to get the tokens," said Etches.

"This could be a way to make new connections through written material
about where people can get other kinds of supports. This can be a way of
making a new bridge to help people hopefully decrease their use," she

The finer details of the pilot project are still being discussed, but five
locations have been suggested, including Centretown Community Health
Centre, Somerset West Community Health Centre, Sandy Hill Community Health
Centre and an addiction clinic on Montreal Road.
- ---
MAP posted-by: