CGHS is starting a 12 month trial of a free 24 hour vending machine that dispenses “5 needle fitpacks”.
CGHS Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) Project Officer, Glenn Strike, said the primary aims were to promote harm reduction and reduce the spread of blood borne viruses (BBVs).
“The NSP to reduce the number of people within a community who share needles for injecting purposes,” Glenn said.
“Community stigma and a need for anonymity often result in people deciding to share needles rather than coming forward to access clean equipment.
“Recent consumer feedback supported this tnrial and resulted in the CGHS committing to undertake it. In addition, we hope that this dispensing unit will significantly reduce the impact made on our Emergency Department through out of hours clean needle requests.”
Glenn said although in operation for less than a month, early indications were that the vending machine was already meeting expectations as more needles were being dispensed and the Emergency Department reports having far less requests.
“The overall 12 month cost of the vending machine is $6200 however with a projected long term health service saving of $20 per needle dispensed ($100 per five needle fitpack), this initiative effectively pays for itself after the first 62 fitpacks – this was achieved after only the first eight days of operation.”
Glen said unlike metropolitan areas, regional NSPs often struggled to provide their services to Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) because of poor public transport services and lack of resources.
This is compounded by IDUs living in smaller townships where it appears preferable to share a needle rather than be identified as an IDU by actively seeking NSP services.
“In addition to the vending machine, a limited mobile NSP service could significantly address this problem by taking the NSP resources directly to each local township,” Glenn said.
“Despite a lack of truly accurate figures, it is widely acknowledged that the needle sharing problem in regional townships is greater than most people would imagine.
“Subsequently, the health of a community can benefit greatly from the initiatives described above, particularly when combined with the much improved effectiveness of the new Hepatitis C treatments that reduce recovery times from 12 months to two months with far less patient side effects.”
If you have any questions or ideas regarding the NSP please contact Glenn on 5143 8800 or at firstname.lastname@example.org