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  • DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health (Ms. Shortall) by Deputies for WRITTEN ANSWER on 18/09/2012 – Needle exchange and supervised injecting facilities

    Posted on September 18th, 2012 TimB No comments

    DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health (Ms. Shortall) by Deputies  for WRITTEN ANSWER on 18/09/2012

    * To ask the Minister for Health if he will support this issue on syringes (details supplied) in County Limerick..
    - Finian McGrath T.D.

    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 18th September, 2012.

    * To ask the Minister for Health his plans to roll out supervised injection sites across the country, if he will provide an update as to the whereabouts and timeframe associated with this, if he will comment on the progress to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
    - Ciara Conway T.D.

    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 18th September, 2012.

    * To ask the Minister for Health the efforts he is making to support the Anna Liffey drug Project in Dublin; his position on supervised injection sites in this State; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
    - Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin T.D.

    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 18th September, 2012.

    * To ask the Minister for Health his views on the calls for the provision of supervised injections sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
    - Billy Kelleher T.D.

    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 18th September, 2012.

    REPLY.

    In line with the Programme for Government and Action 34 of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016, it is Government policy to expand the availability of needle exchange services. Such services greatly reduce the risk of the use of contaminated injecting equipment through providing sterilised needles, syringes and associated injecting paraphernalia. They also reduce the dangers posed by discarded needles through the strong emphasis on the exchange of used supplies for new. As well as the direct benefits of needle exchange services, they also bring people into contact with other services and increase the possibilities for further engagement aimed at reducing heroin use.

    Needle exchange services are broadly available in the Dublin area through the HSE and voluntary sector organisations. There has been significant improvement in the availability of needle exchange services outside Dublin over the past year through community pharmacies, HSE clinics, and voluntary sector organisations. Such services will be expanded to further locations over the coming period through the involvement of more community pharmacies.

    It is not my intention to introduce supervised injection sites for heroin users. Rather my focus is on ensuring that there is an increased emphasis on providing the opportunities for people to move on from illicit drug use, through drug treatment and rehabilitation, to a drug-free life where that is achievable.

    A 2012 report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) indicates that heroin-assisted treatment is made available only in a small number of European countries. While the report found some evidence that this treatment can be effective for a small minority of entrenched opioid users, the EMCDDA made clear that it was reporting only, rather than advocating the provision of such services.

    The Ana Liffey Drugs Project has received considerable support, totalling over €2.26m, from my Department since 2009 as follows:
    2009: €0.567m
    2010: €0.542m
    2011: €0.448m
    2012: €0.704m

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