Increased access to harm reduction supplies across the North
To support harm reduction initiatives, Northern Health’s Mental Health and Addictions department has partnered with Preventive Public Health to form the Northern Harm Reduction Committee.
This committee is linked to the BC Harm Reduction Strategies and Services Committee (BC HRSS) and has aligned its work with the BC HRSS goals:
- Reduce incidence of drug-related health and social harms, including transmission of blood-borne pathogens through equipment sharing;
- Promote and facilitate referral to primary health care and addiction and mental health services;
- Increase public awareness of harm reduction principles, policies and programs; and
- Improve access to harm reduction supply and distribution programs for all British Columbians to empower them to reduce harms associated with problematic substance use and unsafe sex.
One of the goals of the Northern Harm Reduction Committee this past year was to increase the uptake of harm reduction supplies. To support this goal, potential community distribution sites were engaged and provided with training on harm reduction supplies.
The Northern Harm Reduction Committee developed resources to support the enrolment of new sites. When creating these resources, feedback was sought from many sources, including community partners, in the creation of a Harm Reduction Booklet. It describes harm reduction activities in clear language, and includes pictures of supplies to inform and increase the knowledge for secondary site community care providers.
As a result of this work and increased engagement at the local level there has been increased partnership with community agencies, providing improved access to harm reduction supplies.