The local government of the central Colombian city of Pereira, and Colombia’s Ministry of Health and Social Security has began to implement a new health initiative that will give drug addicts access to clean needles, local media reported on Wednesday.
The initiative, called Change, involves the distribution of clean needles to reduce the damage of heroin and other injectable substances and to prevent the transmission of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B.
“The purpose of the program is to help a population that is excluded by their addiction but represents a high risk to public health, including the impact of HIV and Hepatitis B,” said the Health Secretary, Julian Mauricio Trejos, according to Colombia’s Caracol Radio.
According to Santa Fe Radio, local health officials have estimated that there are around 240 people who inject drugs and share syringes.
“Our intention is to raise awareness of various health practices in order to provide social and legal support to addicts. We are not encouraging the use of heroin, we are protecting frequent users of such substances and aim to educate them in the proper handling of equipment used for these purposes,” said the Health Secretary.
Caracol Radio reported that the hygiene kit will consist of a syringe, alcohol wipes, a spoon, sterile water, bandages, condoms and a vaccination. It will be available from Saturday and will be distributed in key areas of concern via a mobile unit.
The Change program also includes education, monitoring and analysis of information gathered through the different routes that are done in a mobile unit ready and organized to store material, with the permanent support of professionals from different areas.
According to El Diario, last weekend 133 kits were delivered throughout key areas of concern in Pereira.
- En Pereira consumidores de heroína recibirán kits higiénicos (Caracol)
- En Pereira comienzan a repartir “kit” a adictos de la heroina y otras drogas inyectables (Radio Santa Fe)
- Pereira: Drogadictos recibirán jeringas higienizadas para prevenir el VHI (Radio Santa Fe)
- Consumidores de heroína recibirán kits higiénicos (El Diario)