‘We can’t forget behind these numbers are individuals and families who are affected,’ says doctor
Health officials have urged Vancouver city council to push forward with new strategies to curb the high opioid death rate, including providing a safe supply of drugs to addicts.
Dr. Patricia Daly with Vancouver Coastal Health and Dr. Mark Tyndall with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control made the suggestion during a presentation to council at city hall Wednesday morning.
“We’ve become so used to this horrible situation,” Tyndall said. “We have to do something different.”
About 300 people died from drug overdoses in Vancouver last year, with numbers yet to come for the last two months of the year.
Daly said she expects the numbers across the province to top 1,400 once the final tally comes from the B.C. Coroners Service.
Deaths preventable, says doctor
“The deaths are still far too high. These are people who are at the prime of their life — almost all the deaths are between 19 and 59 years of age,” Daly said.
“We can’t forget behind these numbers are individuals and families who are affected. Everyone of these deaths is preventable.”
Tyndall and Daly were joined by the city’s fire chief and the city’s managing director of social policy.
Daly said the number of overdose deaths in Vancouver has improved since last April — including numbers from police and hospital emergency departments that suggest that the number of opioid-related deaths didn’t increase over the Christmas holiday period.
The previous year, that number rose over the holidays.
The improvement shows that some of the city’s current strategies, which include supervised injection sites, Naloxone distribution and addiction treatment, have been helpful.
‘We have to do something different’
But Tyndall advised the city to keep on trying new strategies to fight the opioid crisis, including providing safe drugs who need help beyond the current tactics.