Pubdate: Thu, 13 Apr 2017
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Matt Kieltyka
Page: A3


Consumption sites should be up to provinces: Medical chief

Not enough is being done to speed up critical decisions that can save
lives a year into British Columbia's overdose crisis, according to
Vancouver Coastal Health's chief medical health officer.

Dr. Patricia Daly and provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall were
at Vancouver city hall Wednesday to brief council on the progress to
date since Kendall first declared a public health emergency on April
14, 2016.

Last year, 922 people died in the province of illicit drug overdoses -
three times the number of people who died in motor vehicle accidents.

A quarter of the way into 2017 and Vancouver itself has already
recorded 110 overdose deaths, more than half of 2016's total for the

"Unfortunately, there is really no abatement in this crisis," said
deputy city manager Paul Mochrie. "If anything, it's getting worse."

Asked what she'd recommend to senior levels of government, Daly said
provinces should be able to set up supervised drug consumption sites
and expand treatment options, such as prescription heroin, without
approval from the federal government and Health Canada.

"These are a health service and should be a province responsibility,"
Daly said. "This is not just in B.C. Alberta would like consumption
sites, Ontario would like it ... this process is far too cumbersome.
Those kind of decisions need to be made at the provincial level, we'd
be much more nimble if that were the case."

Kendall told council he agreed.

Vancouver Coastal Health currently has two applications filed with
Health Canada for supervised injection sites for the Downtown Eastside.

In the meantime, the province has opened up more than 20 so-called
overdose prevention sites in response to the crisis without the
federal government's consent.

Daly said there hasn't been a single overdose death at Insite, VCH's
emergency mobile medical unit or any of the prevention sites during
the crisis.

"Any, even though the number of overdose deaths in December and
January were really high - 94 in Vancouver over that period - we think
it would have been even higher had we not had the mobile medical unit
or overdose prevention sites in place," Daly said. "We're quite
certain that those services prevented deaths."

Daly said VCH will continue to push forward with opioid substitution
therapies and expanding treatment options in 2017, along with its
current emergency responses.

"That will be our biggest need going forward," she said. "We will
continue to do what needs to be done. We will continue with overdose
prevention sites. We will open new supervised consumption sites and we
will continue with naloxone."
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MAP posted-by: Matt