Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tony Clement is an Embarrassment

According to our federal Minister of Health [Globe & Mail, Clement's Insite attack leaves WHO red-faced]:

“Allowing and/or encouraging people to inject heroin into their veins is not harm reduction, it is the opposite. … We believe it is a form of harm addition,” Tony Clement said Tuesday in Mexico City, where he is attending the XVII International AIDS Conference.

If it isn't already bad enough that Tony Clement contradicts reality, he then contradicts himself.

While the minister's views on Insite are well known, Mr. Clement repeated them Tuesday at an event where he was endorsing and promoting a new WHO “how-to” guide on battling the epidemic, which promotes needle exchange and safe injection sites. The Health Minister's comments left officials from the agency flummoxed and red-faced.

[H/T, Peterborough Politics]

Let's reiterate for the folks at home some of what Insite has done:

  • Insite is leading to increased uptake into detoxification programs and addiction treatment. (New England Journal of Medicine)

  • Insite has not led to an increase in drug-related crime, rates of arrest for drug trafficking, assaults and robbery were similar after the facility’s opening, and rates of vehicle break-ins/theft declined significantly. (Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy)

  • Insite has reduced the number of people injecting in public and the amount of injection-related litter in the downtown eastside. (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

  • Insite is attracting the highest-risk users – those more likely to be vulnerable to HIV infection and overdose, and who were contributing to problems of public drug use and unsafe syringe disposal. (American Journal of Preventive Medicine)

  • Insite has reduced overall rates of needle sharing in the community, and among those who used the supervised injection site for some, most or all of their injections, 70% were less likely to report syringe sharing. (The Lancet)

  • Nearly one-third of Insite users received information relating to safer injecting practices. Those who received help injecting from fellow injection drug users on the streets were more than twice as likely to have received safer injecting education at Insite. (The International Journal of Drug Policy)

  • Insite is not increasing rates of relapse among former drug users, nor is it a negative influence on those seeking to stop drug use. (British Medical Journal)

It would have been far better for him to stay home from the conference like Stephen Harper did when Toronto hosted last time. At least then we'd only be asking why he didn't show up.

Instead we're left to ask why he did show up.

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