July 29, 2011
Supervised injection facilities, syringe exchanges, and methadone clinics are needed across Canada, according to a new report issued by the Canadian Coalition of Organizations Responding to Hepatitis B and C. These and other resources to fight hepatitis are inconsistently available in Canada, the coalition said.
Coordination is especially lacking in Prince Edward Island, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories, and "governments are essentially failing in terms of the prison population," the report found. "There is no consistency from one institution to the next. Harm-reduction measures, resources, and equipment must be available and accessible in all provincial and federal institutions."
"All governments need to adopt a broader perspective on the determinants of health if they are to be able to address the harms associated with drug use and drug-use policy," the report said.
The report gave governments grades of "C-minus" for ensuring that every infant receives free vaccination against hepatitis A and B, as well as for identifying those in need of catch-up vaccines.
Further, "too many people remain undiagnosed and untreated for [hepatitis C]," the report said. "Screening based on age, as well as risk, needs to be enforced."
The report recommends the federal government add hepatitis B to the list of reportable infections, which already includes hepatitis C. Federal officials also should take a more active role in promoting organ donation, as there are too few liver transplants for hepatitis-related organ failures, the report said.
For more information, visit: www.canadianhepatitiscoalition.ca.