Fentanyl Crisis Anniversary
Prince George, B.C.- Today marks one year since Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared a public health emergency because of the epidemic of opioid related overdoses in B.C.
Since that declaration was made, a further 919 people died from an overdose.
Since the declaration of a public health emergency, awareness campaigns were launched, and volunteers, family members, front-line emergency responders, health-care personnel and law enforcement officials responded to and reversed thousands overdoses and saved hundreds of lives.
“While the continued toll is discouraging, we must also acknowledge that because of these actions, hundreds of people are alive and hundreds more are now in treatment and recovery who would not be were it not for these interventions.” says Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall.
Dr. Kendall says the battle is no where near over “As the health system partners with those in public safety, there is broad recognition that we cannot arrest our way out of this situation – but neither is it likely we can treat our way out of it. The introduction of highly potent synthetic opioids has been the game-changer in B.C., and I don’t think we are going to be able to keep these out. Although it has yet to be verified, we believe that the unprecedented surge in deaths in November, December and January is attributable to the more widespread arrival of carfentanil here in our province.”
He says efforts must continue on a number of fronts including establishing supervised injection sites, expanding access to opioid assisted treatments, expanding access to injectables like hydromorphone for the small proportion of people for whom other therapies do not work, and increasing coordination and linkages with the recovery community.”
“I think that unfortunately, we still have a long road ahead, but I believe that we have the means, the motivation and the compassion to turn this situation around.”