Public health emergency declared in drug-related overdoses

first_imgThe information will be collected by the provincial health officer and analyzed at a provincial level by the BC Centre for Disease Control to better inform management of this public health crisis.According to the B.C. government, the provincial health officer consulted the information and privacy commissioner prior to giving notice of this action under the Public Health Act, and will continue to consult on plans to collect information. The information collected will be protected as confidential medical records.Records from March out the B.C. Coroners Service show that three fentanyl-related deaths have been confirmed in Northern B.C. so far this year – in Prince George, Williams Lake and Pink Mountain.The same numbers say one fentanyl-related death was confirmed in Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Chetwynd, Charlie Lake, and Wonowon in 2015, respectively. VICTORIA, B.C. — The Province’s health officer is calling an increase in drug-related overdoses and deaths a ‘public health emergency.’Dr. Perry Kendall, along with the Minister of Health Terry Lake, told press in Victoria today that there were 474 apparent drug overdose deaths in 2015 — a 30 per cent increase from 2014. There were 76 deaths in January 2016, which is the highest its been in almost 10 years.At the current rate, if no action is taken, they say there could be 600 to 800 overdose deaths in B.C. this year.- Advertisement -“The recent surge in overdoses is a huge concern for us,” said Lake. “Medical health officers need immediate access to what’s happening and where so they can deploy the necessary strategies to prevent these tragedies.”Lake said the majority of the incidents have happened in the lower mainland, but no region of the province is unaffected.This news means there is one more tool in the robust provincial strategy to address what the province is calling a ‘public health crisis.’Advertisement “Health authorities have consistently asked for more data that will help inform responses and prevent future overdoses,” said Dr. Kendall. “Over the next few weeks, I’ll work with medical health officers, health authorities, emergency room staff, paramedics and other first responders and the BC Coroners Service to determine how best to collect and share the data.”Information regarding the circumstances of any overdose in the province where emergency personnel or health care workers respond or provide care will be reported as quickly as possible to the regional health authorities’ medical health officers. This is expected to include location, the drugs used and how they were taken.The information will now be reported for both fatal overdoses and overdoses where the person recovers. Before, there is only information on overdoses is only reported if someone dies, and there is some delay in the information.This information will help prevent future overdoses and deaths by better targeting outreach, bad drug warnings, awareness campaigns and distribution of naloxone training and kits. It will also help health care workers connect with vulnerable communities and provide take-home naloxone to the people who need it.Advertisementlast_img

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