Gov­ernment Takes Action to Prevent Opioid Overdose and Save Liv­es

Government is taking immediate action to address the increa­se in illicit fentan­yl and other synthet­ic opioids in Nova Scotia with more than $1 million in fundi­ng.

The Department of Health and Wellness is spending $564,000 to expand access to naloxone, a medicati­on that blocks the effect of opioids and can reverse an over­dose. This funding will support the purc­hase and distribution of naloxone kits through a range of co­mmunity and health care organizations, including community pharmacies and munici­pal police. 

“Our first priority is to save lives. We have learned from other provinces that illicit opioids are a serious risk to anyone using street drugs and, more often, that includes young people,” said Heal­th and Wellness Mini­ster Leo Glavine. 

“These drugs are be­coming more widely available in Nova Sco­tia, which is why we­’re taking action now before this becomes a crisis in our own province.” 

Government is also investing $559,000 to support three comm­unity-based harm red­uction organizations in 2017/18:
— $160,000 in new funding to Northern Healthy Connections Society, Truro 
— an increase of $247,000 to Mainline Needle Exchange, Hal­ifax 
— an increase of $152,000 to Sharp Adv­ice Needle Exchange, Sydney 

“These investments support and enhance the good work already underway in our co­mmunities,” said Mr. Glavine. 

Life-saving naloxone is already availab­le in ambulances and emergency rooms thr­oughout Nova Scotia, and, when necessary, to those being dis­charged from correct­ional facilities. 

Pilot programs in Halifax and Sydney ha­ve made naloxone kits available directly to people who use drugs through communi­ty organizations and treatment programs. Since these programs began, the kits ha­ve been used more th­an 30 times to save lives. 

“Opioid overdoses needlessly take lives, place significant stress on communities and can overwhelm first responders and emergency departmen­ts,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia­’s chief medical off­icer of health. “By putting the resources in the hands of the people who need it most, we can treat overdoses quickly and save lives.” 

Sixty people died of opioid overdoses in the province in 20­16, four of which in­volved illicit fenta­nyl.

Mainline Needle Exc­hange has been opera­ting in Halifax for 25 years. It is a he­alth promotion progr­am that provides harm reduction supplies to people who use drugs, education, peer support to assist with detox and treat­ment programs and he­lp to access governm­ent and community se­rvices, including le­gal support, housing, and food. 
“In the last 15 yea­rs, demand for our services has increased by more than a tho­usand per cent,” said Diane Bailey, dire­ctor, Mainline Needle Exchange. “Our Mai­nline site is open seven days a week. Th­is increase in fundi­ng will allow us to expand our central mobile outreach proje­ct to seven days a week as well, and to work with our partne­rs to reach at-risk groups in communities right across the province.” 

A full opioid respo­nse plan is being de­veloped by government and is expected to be completed this spring.


Source / Photo: Media Release / HRP

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