Pubdate: Sat, 18 Feb 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Andrea Peacock
Page: A1


IHA saw largest increase in rate of drug overdose deaths from 2015 to
2016, a 145 per cent jump, from 64 to 158 deaths

Kelowna had the third highest number of illicit drug overdose deaths
among B.C. cities last month.

In January, there were eight drug overdose deaths in Kelowna, 10
deaths in the Okanagan and 18 deaths across Interior Health, according
to a BC Coroners Service report released Friday.

The top two cities for drug overdose deaths in January were Vancouver
with 45 deaths and Surrey with nine.

In B.C., there were 116 drug overdose deaths last month, a 36.5 per
cent increase over the number of deaths in January 2016.

Interior, Fraser and Northern health authorities saw declines in the
number of illicit drug overdose deaths in January from December.

In December 2016, there were 30 overdose deaths across IH, a record

"While there has been a decrease in overdose deaths from December to
January in the Interior Health region, we are continuing to see a
significant number of overdose deaths, and this is a concern," said
Dr. Silvina Mema, medical health officer.

"Responding to this public health emergency remains a priority for
Interior Health, and we will continue to focus our efforts on harm
reduction, overdose prevention, treatment and education."

More than 92 per cent of drug overdose deaths last month in B.C.
occurred indoors, either at private residences or other locations,
with just over seven per cent occurring outside.

There were no deaths at safe injection or drug overdose prevention
sites. Interior Health Authority saw the largest increase in the rate
of drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016, a 145 per cent increase,
from 64 deaths to 158 deaths.

Overall, the rate of illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. increased by
78 per cent from 2015 to 2016, from 513 deaths to 922 deaths.

In an effort to fight the increasing drug overdose deaths, IH opened a
drug overdose prevention site in Kelowna in December.

Last month, it also announced plans to bring a mobile overdose
prevention unit to the city.

Drug use is not permitted inside an overdose prevention

IH is also applying to Health Canada for an exemption to run a mobile
safe consumption unit, where people will be able to use drugs in a
supervised environment.

"There's no doubt that the supervised consumption service will save
lives," Dr. Trevor Corneil, chief medical health officer, said last
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