September 12, 2016 - 8:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - The Interior Health Authority is bringing the safe illicit drug consumption debate to Kamloops council.
An information presentation is planned for tomorrow’s, Sept. 13, council meeting to explain the ins and outs of safe consumption services, and how it might work in the community. Interior Health medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema says in a letter to council no locations in Kamloops have been determined yet.
“We are exploring a model that embeds this service within an existing service for the target population,” she writes. “It would not be a stand alone safe consumption site.”
While no decisions are expected tomorrow, Mema does say the health authority will asking for city council's opinion.
“We will be requesting a letter from mayor and council outlining their opinion on offering safe consumption services in Kamloops including any concerns with respect to public health and safety,” she writes.
As part of her presentation, Mema will be including a statistics package, outlining the skyrocketing increase in overdose deaths in Kamloops. In the first seven months this year there’ve been 22 overdoes deaths in Kamloops, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. The annual average for the previous nine years was seven deaths. A six-fold increase is expected by the end of the year, Mema writes.
A public health emergency was declared April 14 by the provincial health officer as overdose deaths skyrocketed in the province, in part due to the increased use of fentanyl. In Kamloops the authority responded with more take home Naloxone kits, but Mema says the city could benefit from safe consumption services.
The authority is already starting on the process to create services in the interior. Mema has said that Kelowna may also get services sometime soon, and that it’s possible both city’s could see services. The presentation will outline where the authority is in the process, and what is needed to continue.
“Planning for a safe consumption service in any given community requires significant stakeholder engagement,” she writes.
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