As the eventful 24th Harm Reduction Conference entered its final day, I feel a great sense of pride that we have arrived where we are, but at the same time sad that in some countries harm reduction is not on the agenda, and In others such as England it has slowly been dismantled. Harm reduction in England was described to me recently by one of the early UK pioneers as a "cottage industry".
In the mid 1980s, the Mersey Health Region, which consisted of the counties of Merseyside and Cheshire in the UK, became the focus of attention because of its radical and pioneering approach to dealing with the problems connected with drug use. Most of this focused on Liverpool, the biggest city in the region. Liverpool has a proud history of public health and was the first city in the world to appoint a Medical Officer of Health in 1847.
As you may already know HIT 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.
The drug scene is constantly changing and new drugs are being used alongside the old favourites. There has been an increase in drug-related deaths and problems using 'new' drugs. Too many users are being put at risk by not knowing what they are taking, taking too much and/or mixing drugs.