There have been a number of stories in the local rags of late about the Vancouver Island Health Authorities (VIHA) latest plans to distribute Crack Kits under the guize of Harm Reduction. Don't get me wrong, I think there is a need for harm reduction strategies but one has to think of when are the so called strategies actually causing more harm.
I have been able to find only one study, out of Ottawa, that was done on the handing out of Crack Kits as a means to reduce HIV and HEP C as well as intravenous drug use. While it could not categorically state any reductions of the above what it did find was an increased use in Crack. Personally I don't really have a problem of handing these things out, in existing needle exchange services, though I think just providing the mouth piece as opposed to the whole crack pipe should suffice.
What I really have a problem with is VIHA's lack of consulting with neighbourhoods and their apparent forcing on some front line services the added responsibility of handing out needles and crack kits. This type of behaviour on the part of VIHA will only result in supporting some of the NIMBY attitudes that exist. Obnly through open communication and education will we ever be able to reduce these attitudes.
Below is a copy of a letter I sent as well as a link to the published version which in my opinion was overly edited.
Related Stories VIHA and their plan to distribute Crack Kits:
Letter To The Editor As Sent March 24th.
VIHA’s management, no disrespect to the many excellent frontline staff of and funded by VIHA, has taken its communication strategy to a whole new level. The level I speak of is one of intimidation and an utter disregard of the opinions of the people they serve.
Openly stating that their proposal to distribute crack kits from frontline services will not include discussion with surrounding community and that service providers can only opt out with ‘compelling’ reasons smacks of intimidation and coercion. If I were a service provider I would certainly feel any funding received from VIHA could be in jeopardy if I were not to comply.
VIHA’s website states it is "committed to being accountable to the public" and "committed to informing the public about how they plan to deliver services to meet the needs of communities." Their mission is “serving and involving the people of the islands to maintain and improve health.” Two of their core values, Partnership and Collaboration & Integrity, Accountability and Ethics talk about working in partnership and sharing responsibility with our colleagues, clients, communities; honouring their commitments to each other and every person they serve and communicating with openness and honesty as well as holding themselves to the highest ethical standards.
I see no talk of secrecy and intimidation in the above. These behaviours will only work to cement the publics’ already low opinion of this organization.
Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010 VIHA failing to listen to public on crack kits
This in the D/N March 26 Harris House success due to partnerships a good letter from Gord Cote of Nanaimo and Area Resource Services for Families.