As you may have seen in the media recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched new guidelines on medical injections and a global campaign to switch all medical and vaccination injections to syringes that cannot be used more than once. However these guidelines do not apply to needle and syringe programmes for a number of reasons.
According to Public Health England, every time somebody injects drugs they should be using sterile equipment – including needles and syringes, filters, cookers and swabs. But the reality is somewhat different. People who inject drugs are often put off asking for the injecting equipment that they are entitled to because of negative experiences.
In 2013 there were 765 deaths involving heroin and morphine in England – a sharp rise of 32% from the previous year. Many of these fatalities could have been prevented by the use of Naloxone as an intervention - we would like to encourage our members (and anyone else reading this) to email their MP.
As NNEF members may already know we are part of the Naloxone Action Group (NAG). NAG is made up of a number of organisations who have come together to press for wider availability of naloxone in England. Today the group has sent out a press release encouraging support of an Early Day Motion and asking people to contact their MPs to ask them to be involved.
There have recently been a number of cases of wound botulism among people injecting heroin in Scotland. There has been a single recent case confirmed in England and, although it is currently unknown whether there is a cross-border link, these cases might indicate an increase in the overall level of heroin contamination.
Back in July at our NNEF Training Event we had a session facilitated by Mat Southwell and Tam Miller from Coact, the session focused on peoples experiences of peer delivered needle and syringe distribution. Coact in partnership with Community Action on Harm Reduction have now launched a video project based on this session.