Health Canada to Consider Safe Injection Sites
November 13, 2002
Health Canada is reviewing the criteria for safe injection sites for drug addicts and will be ready to accept proposals from interested cities by the end of this year. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act has already been reviewed to ensure there is no legal impediment to creating centers where intravenous drug users could safely inject their drugs.
"We're in the process," Farah Mohamed, a spokesperson for Health Minister Anne McLellan, said Saturday. "The minister, by the end of the year, will be able to accept proposals [from individual cities]." Mohamed said it would take 60 days for Health Canada to review each proposal. Upon approval, the city would be free to establish a safe injection center.
Mohamed said no decision has been made for Health Canada to fund the injection sites. A decision on funding would come only when a prospective safe injection site is identified, she said.
"Health Canada needs to at least co-fund these safe injection facilities," said Ralf Jurgens, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. The network completed a report in April calling for the creation of trial safe injection sites, citing an August 2001 Canadian Medical Association Journal article that supports its position. "Supervised injection rooms are a logical next step," the article stated, "one that combines the merits of realism and compassion." A safe injection site differs from a needle exchange center in that it would provide intravenous drug users with trained medical professionals to monitor the injection of drugs.
There are 125,000 intravenous drug users in Canada, according to CHALN, whose 1998 study estimated $8.7 billion in direct and indirect costs from HIV/AIDS over six years if current transmission trends continue. Montreal's Mount-Royal Avenue Merchants Association opposed the establishment of such sites, as did the Vancouver Community Alliance, which accused an injection advocacy group of putting the safety of drug users ahead of community safety.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.