April 29, 2016 - 10:30 AM
PROVINCE DECLARED PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY IN MID APRIL
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Interior Health is still working on how to gather information about live and fatal drug overdoses two weeks after a public health emergency was declared over the soaring overdose rate in B.C.
“Developing a comprehensive overdose surveillance system is a priority for Interior Health and we are working to implement this as soon as possible,” medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema says.
She adds the health authority has created an incidence response team to oversee and coordinate the system.
"Our focus right now is on engaging internal and external partners (such as emergency departments and communty agencies) to establish data gathering and data management processes… work is also underway to expand the Take Home Naloxone program across Interior Health," Mema says.
She says the data collected will include information on the drugs consumed, location, and other demographic information and will include data on individuals who access health services and those who may recover in the community without accessing health care services.”
Mema did not provide an estimate of when data collection would begin.
Dr. Perry Kendall, the province’s public medical health officer, declared a province-wide public health emergency saying it would allow real time gathering of data on live and fatal drug overdoses.
British Columbia had a record number of fatal overdoses last year, many of them fentanyl related, and is on track to break that grim record in 2016 should current rates continue.
The Interior Health Authority has been particularly hard hit, reporting 60 overdose deaths last year, a record in itself, and new numbers released this week by the B.C. Coroners Service already show 39 deaths through the end of March, just three months into the year.
Find more stories on overdoses here.
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