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October 27, 2017 11:20 pm

Northern Health Reacts to Public Health Emergency

Friday, April 15, 2016 @ 5:56 AM

Prince George, B.C. – Northern Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sandra Allison wasn’t surprised a public health emergency was declared yesterday in response to a significant increase in drug-related overdoses and deaths in this province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall issued the emergency because 201 people have already died this year from overdoses (January through March). This compares to 476 overdose related deaths in all of 2015.

Northern Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sandra Allison - photo courtesy Northern Health

Northern Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sandra Allison – photo courtesy Northern Health

“It was not unexpected, I think that we as medical health officers have been struggling for quite some time with the number of overdoses and the alarming rate at which people are overdosing,” says Allison.

“There’s a number of pieces that contribute to that, including illicit drugs that are contaminated with fentanyl and other substances.”

She’s hopeful the announcement will make a difference considering the province says “it will allow medical health officers to collect more robust, real-time information on overdoses in order to identify immediately where risks are arising and take proactive action to warn and protect people who use drugs.”

“We’re feeling this will allow us to gather information and act a little sooner because we aren’t able to gather information right now.”

Allison says it’s “really hard to say” if all the 10 overdose deaths in the North so far this year are opioid or fentanyl related.

“Toxicology findings have not helped us understand exactly what’s out there. In fact I think there’s quite a few different things that are out there. So really having the ability to act sooner will help us identify what’s on the street sooner as well.”


While I’m pleased that the government has finally woke up
(HELLO! nearly 500 overdose deaths last year, more than one death every day of the year)

When they do decide to do something about it, it amounts to a press release stating that they will now start to study the problem.

Well, I’m SURE that will help, in a couple more years; or no, when is the next election again? Ah, of course, we’ll get right on this problem as soon as we are re-elected. Not enough time to do anything “substantive” right away. In the meantime, we’ll have someone perform a couple of studies, hold a few meetings with “stakeholders” maybe travel to some other “jurisdictions” to see how they deal with these “issues”

So, I hope I’m wrong, and that we will see some real positive action taken much sooner than I expect.

A good start would be to put some real muscle in the court system so that if and when the RCMP are able to capture a kingpin, he or she is punished appropriately. They, the knigpins are directly responsible for overdose deaths related to inconsistent strength of illicit drugs.


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