The Saskatchewan Health Authority is working to provide safer inhalation supplies through community based organizations (CBOs) and Saskatchewan’s provincially funded harm reduction sites.
“Currently, seven provinces across Canada have incorporated safer inhalation supplies into their harm reduction programming,” said Dr. Ashok Chhetri, Saskatchewan Health Authority’s Medical Health Officer in Yorkton. “There is evidence from those jurisdictions that suggest that these supplies reduce the risk of contracting HIV and Hepatitis C.”
“The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations supports an expanded approach to harm reduction,” said Second Vice-Chief David Pratt. “By reaching out with better options for people facing addictions issues, we can better spread the message that there are opportunities in the health care system for treatment and eventual recovery.”
Making safer inhalation supplies available through harm reduction sites and community based organizations will provide people who use drugs an alternative to injecting drugs. In the absence of safer inhalation supplies, makeshift pipes made from materials such as glass bottles and aluminum cans lead to cuts, burns, blisters and open sores that can lead to the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C when shared.
“Adding safer inhalation equipment to Saskatchewan’s harm reduction programming is a progressive step forward that will reduce the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C transmission,” said Dr. Peter Butt. “Injection drug use is more dangerous. Safer inhalation equipment will give clients an alternative to injecting.”
Safer inhalation supplies will become available at harm reduction sites within the next few months. There are 26 fixed and three mobile provincially-funded harm reduction programs across the province. As part of efforts to reach as many people as possible, the Saskatchewan Health Authority will also work to ensure key community-based organizations are part of the expansion.
“Making safer inhalation supplies available through Saskatchewan’s harm reduction sites and eventually CBO’s is an important step in addressing the harms associated with crystal meth use and other drugs,” said Jason Mercredi, Executive Director of AIDS Saskatoon. “We are excited that community based organizations will play a role in this important collective effort to meaningfully address addictions issues across Saskatchewan.”
The province of Saskatchewan spends more than $46 million annually on a wide range of addictions services.