Opinion: A failed B.C. emergency response, and the dying continues (Dr. Michael Krausz)
It has been a year since the chief medical health officer for B.C., Dr. Perry Kendall, declared a state of emergency over the province’s overdose crisis. The death toll continues to climb a year later, with 347 deaths in the first quarter of 2017. The response to the crisis has clearly failed. Despite the heroic efforts of first responders, local communities, and non-profits, the response has not stemmed the tide. This failure has deeps roots in the lack of political leadership and will to make the decisions necessary to rein in the crisis.
It’s not for lack of expert advice. For example, despite calls by Kendall and Dr. Patrica Daly, the chief medical health officer for Vancouver Health Authority, for greater access to opioid substitution treatments, there has been little commitment on the part of the province. A vast body of international research, some of which was done here in Vancouver, has demonstrated that providing addicts with prescription heroin such as diacetylmorphine and hydromorphone will put the brakes on buying street drugs, 60 per cent of which are laced with fentanyl, and get addicts into treatment.
Kerry Jang and Dr. Michael Krausz write