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Provincial health officer declares public health emergency

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Health

Provincial health officer declares public health emergency

Contacts
Kristy Anderson
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)
(flickr.com)
Contacts
Kristy Anderson
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)

Backgrounders

Backgrounder

Provincial action to prevent overdoses and deaths:

  • B.C. funds harm reduction programs and services, including needle distribution and collection, opioid substitution treatment, supervised consumption services, and B.C.’s Take Home Naloxone program.
  • B.C. was the first province in Canada to establish a provincewide take-home naloxone program.
  • In January 2016, the emergency medical assistants regulation was amended to permit licensed fire rescue first responders to administer naloxone and expand the number of paramedics able to do so. To date, 797 firefighters have been trained in 22 fire departments and 19 overdoses have been reversed. B.C. was the first province to allow firefighters to carry naloxone.
  • With Health Canada’s decision to make naloxone available without a prescription, the Ministry of Health and BC Centre for Disease Control have collaborated with the BC College of Pharmacists to develop naloxone training for B.C. pharmacists, so they can prepare patients and their representatives on how to use it in an overdose situation. Education sessions are scheduled in several communities around the province, and web-based training has been launched to support pharmacists practicing in smaller communities. B.C. was the first province to make non-prescription naloxone available through pharmacies.
  • Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Police Department and the BC Centre for Disease Control developed Know Your Source, a public service campaign to raise awareness about overdoses risks due to fentanyl and other drugs in the Lower Mainland.
  • Provincial partners developed www.towardtheheart.com to provide information and resources about harm reduction and to help British Columbians find local harm reduction supply distribution sites.

BC Drug Overdose and Alert Partnership:

  • The BC Drug Overdose and Alert Partnership (DOAP) was established to prevent and reduce the harms associated with substance use.
  • Led by the BC Centre for Disease Control, the partnership provides a surveillance and early warning network with provincial partners to issue alerts about dangerous illicit drugs such as fentanyl.
  • The group identifies and disseminates timely information about harms related to substance use including overdose, adverse reactions to contaminated products, and other emerging issues.
  • It has representatives from health authorities, public health, BC Coroners Service and law enforcement agencies
  • The group recently produce an Opioid Overdose Response Strategy which recommended a number of actions, including increasing “timely collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on drug overdose events in collaboration with regional and provincial partners.” (http://www.bccdc.ca/health-professionals/clinical-resources/harm-reduction/bc-drug-overdose-alert-partnership-doap)

Take Home Naloxone Program:

  • Naloxone is a safe medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose of an opioid drug, such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl or oxycodone.
  • Since 2012, people who use opioids and have overdose response training can receive “take home” naloxone kits from more than 160 sites throughout B.C. at no cost.
  • Take-home naloxone kits have resulted in reversal of 488 opioid drug overdoses.
  • Almost 6,400 kits have been distributed to people who use opioids, and more than 6,800 people trained to administer naloxone, including people who use opioids, their friends and family, and service providers.

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