Nelson Fentanyl Task Force funds $15k toward providing new prescription options

This article was originally posted in the Nelson Star: Oct 21, 2020

The money supports an outreach worker who helps people access pharmaceutical opioids and stimulants.

The Nelson Fentanyl Task Force (NFTF) has directed $15,000 in funding to help improve access to new provincial pandemic prescribing options for people who use substances, also referred to as safe supply. The NFTF is a collaborative group formed in 2016 in response to the overdose crisis, and is comprised of healthcare workers, emergency responders, and many other stakeholders across the community.

The funds will go towards supporting an outreach worker on a team in Nelson. The team supports people to access pharmaceutical opioids and stimulants to mitigate the deadly effects of the overdose crisis. The ANKORS outreach worker, funded by NFTF and ANKORS, works with outreach staff from several other local organizations, including Nelson CARES, Interior Health and Nelson Community Services.

The BC Coroner’s report shows that more people are dying due to overdose in British Columbia than ever before. In the first eight months of 2020, 1,068 people have died due to overdose in B.C., which is more than in all of 2019. Overdose prevention sites, wider use of naloxone, opioid agonist therapy (OAT), and drug checking responses in B.C. were contributing to reduced death rates prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Barriers to Healthcare for Inhalation and Injection Drug Users

May 26, 2010
by Tara Thom Burnett

The ANKORS needle exchange program has been operating in several communities within the Kootenay Boundary since 1998. During this time period, ANKORS has collected a surplus of anecdotal information pertaining to the challenges and barriers for clients accessing health care and social services.  This information indicates that persons who use intravenous or inhalation drugs and are also living with HCV or HIV experience many difficulties when attempting to access health care services.

Most research evaluating barriers to health care has been conducted in larger centres.  Reporting of data from smaller communities is nearly non-existent.  Nevertheless, this literary review aims to examine the current research with the purpose of outlining the main issues and barriers to accessing health care for inhalation or injection drug users with HCV and/or HIV.

The literature suggests that the reluctance of physicians to treat HCV or HIV while their patients are actively using illicit drugs contributes greatly to the inaccessibility of health care services.  For example, many intravenous drug users (IDUs) with HCV are “deemed ineligible for treatment” because of ongoing substance abuse (Grebely, Genoway, Raffa & Dhadwal, 2008a, p. 28).  In a 2007 Vancouver study that examined barriers to the treatment of HCV among illicit drug users it was found that “factors associated with decreased uptake of treatment for HCV infection included current heroin use and HIV/HCV co-infection”.  Specifically, “concerns about patient motivation and adherence, medical and psychiatric co-morbidity, re-infection due to recurrent risk behaviours and the lack of infrastructure to ensure long-term access to care have all been raised as obstacles to the implementation of systematic HCV treatment programs in patients with a history of recreational drug use” (Grebely et al., 2008a, p. 26).

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