COVID-19 has brought health inequities to the forefront including the tragic impact on people who use drugs. The closure of international borders has impeded the flow of illicit drugs between countries, and the result is a street supply that is more poisoned than ever. Overdose events and deaths have increased to devastating levels- more people died in the first 8 months of 2020 than in all of 2019 – and people all over the province are mourning the loss of friends and family members.
In March 2020, the BC provincial government released a guidance document on providing a safe supply of drugs, also referred to as “pandemic prescribing” or “risk mitigation”. Visit the BC Centre on Substance Use Opioid Use Disorder page for guidance document and more (Note: this guidance is currently in the process of being reviewed and updated).
As PAN members began adjusting their services to help clients access a safe supply, they asked that we collect information about organizations’ experiences with the safe supply implementation in order to focus on stories about successes, challenges, impacts; and to see how PAN could support our members’ work. PAN developed a short survey that we plan to circulate on an ongoing basis so we can track changes over time. We conducted our first survey over July and August, and are now pleased to share the results of the first round here. The survey Results include a regional breakdown of the data/responses, and also offer key take-aways and recommended calls for action.
PAN will be using the information gathered to support our advocacy as we move to transform public health policies and practices. These results will also inform our capacity building and research work. Aggregated findings will be made available to our members and allies after each round of the survey, so they too can use this information. We will share findings with policy- and decision-makers, advocacy leaders including people who use drugs, and partners who are leading the overall evaluation of safe supply.
It is our goal with this data that we honour the lives of people who use drugs and contribute to better health outcomes for them. We also wish to reflect and support the peers and staff at organizations providing harm reduction services and advocacy. For more information and support, please see our Drug Use and Overdose Response resources page.
Questions? Comments? Get in touch.
Jennifer (Evin) Jones, Executive Director, [email protected]