Katanning needle and syringe exchange program key to community health

Sarah MakseGreat Southern Herald
Katanning Health Service.
Camera IconKatanning Health Service. Credit: Liam Croy / Great Southern Herald

A new needle and syringe exchange program at the Katanning Hospital aims to reduce the spread of blood-borne viruses in the community and provide face-to-face support for drug users.

The Katanning needle and syringe exchange program was launched this month, providing free equipment, and education on safe injection practices, managing overdoses, safe handling and disposal of equipment.

A WA Country Health Service spokeswoman said since the program was rolled out in Australia in 1986, it had been a proven way of reducing the sharing and reuse of injecting equipment.

“The needle and syringe exchange program is a public health initiative that aims to reduce harm associated with injectingdrug use, thereby minimisingthe spread of blood-borne viruses in the community,” she said.

The spokeswoman said the programs did not encourage or increase use within a community.

“The NSEP encourages the return of used injecting equipment in exchange for new sterile equipment — further to this, NSEP offers education to consumers on safe sharps disposal,” she said.

“In addition to reducing blood-borne viruses, NSEPs provide a face-to-face service for consumers.

“It is not uncommon for NSEPs to be the only contact consumers have with the health system.

“This means that NSEPs are key to providing health interventions for injecting drug users.”

The Katanning needle and syringe exchange program runs on weekdays from the Katanning Hospital from noon-4pm.

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