“Harm reduction” is a term that’s in the news in Vancouver a lot lately.
That’s because an opioid epidemic is killing an average of four people in B.C. every day, and the government has deployed a number of harm-reduction programs as its primary response to the crisis.
If you don’t know what the words mean, if you do but want to learn more, or if you’re a harm-reduction expert and want to help spread awareness, Science World is hosting an event next Tuesday (December 4) that’s perfect for you.
“Experts will speak on best practices and other initiatives that aim to reduce harm and increase acceptance,” Science World’s website reads. “Following the discussion there will be opportunities to chat with organisations in the community who are working on a variety of harm reduction strategies. There will also be time to participate in a variety of smaller discussion groups.”
The evening is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. with a panel discussion featuring Dr. Jane Buxton and Dr. Mark Tyndall, both of whom are top officials with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control; Canadian Drug Policy Coalition executive director Donald Macpherson, who also served as the City of Vancouver’s drug policy co-ordinator from 2001 to 2009; Fraser Health Authority’s Erica Thomson; and Jonathan Deakin, who works as an emergency paramedic.
After an hour-long discussion, those in attendance will be invited to break off into smaller groups.
Members of the public can attend an hour-long class titled “Harm Reduction 101”. Or they can take a training session on overdose response and learn how to use naloxone (brand name Narcan), an injectable medication that reverses the effects of opioids to revive someone who has suffered an overdose. Or those in search of more long-term answers can listen and lend their voice to a session called “What’s Next?”
B.C.’s overdose epidemic is on track to kill more than 1,500 people this year, up from 1,458 in 2017, 993 in 2016, and 526 the year before that.
The December 4 event is organized by Science World, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, and the B.C. CDC Foundation for Public Health. Additional details are available at Science World’s website.