Spike in sy­ringe dis­tri­bu­tion

Pilbara News - - News - Court­ney Fowler

■ Depart­ment of Health sta­tis­tics have re­vealed that over the three­year pe­riod to 2014, the num­ber of sy­ringes be­ing dis­trib­uted to the public in the Pil­bara in­creased by al­most 20 per cent.

From Jan­uary to De­cem­ber 2012, the use of sy­ringes in the re­gion was recorded at 95,048 — for the same pe­riod in 2013 it had jumped to 136,450, and in 2014 it slightly de­creased to 113,915.

The Pil­bara News was un­able to ob­tain cur­rent data for 2015 be­cause it will not be com­piled un­til early next year.

But the find­ings come af­ter re­cent re­ports of con­cerned res­i­dents on Face­book find­ing used nee­dles and sy­ringes on public walk­ways and trails.

Safe in­ject­ing equip­ment, called Fit­packs, are dis­trib­uted through phar­ma­cies, the Nickol Bay Hos­pi­tals Emer­gency Depart­ment and other health ser­vices, such as the Pop­u­la­tion Health Unit and Mawarnkarra Abo­rig­i­nal Health Ser­vice in Roe­bourne.

A health depart­ment spokes­woman said the nee­dle and sy­ringe pro­grams were a “suc­cess­ful and es­sen­tial” public health strat­egy for the preven­tion of HIV, hep­ati­tis B and hep­ati­tis C.

“Nee­dle and sy­ringe pro­grams are ev­i­denced to be the most cost­ef­fec­tive method in re­duc­ing harm as­so­ci­ated with in­ject­ing drug use,” he said.

“They re­duce the bur­den of dis­ease on the in­di­vid­ual, the fam­ily and the com­mu­nity and re­duc­ing the bur­den of cost in­curred within the healthcare sys­tem.”

Most public toi­lets and ameni­ties pro­vided by the City of Kar­ratha and con­sumer cen­tres like Cen­tro Kar­ratha and the Leisure­plex have sharps dis­posal fa­cil­i­ties.

City of Kar­ratha Mayor Peter Long said sharps or any­thing else harm­ful to the com­mu­nity should be re­ported to the City for ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion and should not be han­dled by in­di­vid­u­als.

“Our ranger ve­hi­cles are equipped with sharps dis­posal units so these items can be dis­posed of safely,” he said.

“De­lib­er­ate lit­ter­ing can be re­ported to the City through the Dob-in-a-Dumper re­port form on the City of Kar­ratha web­site with penal­ties rang­ing from $500 for dan­ger­ous items, such as glass and sharps, and court fines from $1000.

“Coun­cil spends mil­lions of dol­lars ev­ery year on ini­tia­tives that keep our city clean and safe for the com­mu­nity and has no tol­er­ance when it comes to peo­ple rub­bish­ing our en­vi­ron­ment.”

Pic­ture: Face­book

This photo was posted on Face­book this month by a res­i­dent who found a used sy­ringe and blood­ied cot­ton on TV Hill in Kar­ratha.

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