Should the needle exchange programme be implemented in the Seychelles
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An island treasure in the ocean has not been able to escape the rampant drug trade haunting the world today. Many families suffer daily as one of their members is addicted to drugs. The problem does not end there. With heroin administered with syringes, even more problems have emerged. This has included the potential of propagation of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. The Ministry of Health is contemplating whether the needle exchange programme should be implemented in the Seychelles.
My blog today will be dedicated to the upcoming Hepatitis C day on the 24th July 2014 and assess the debate on the needle exchange programme.
“It is like giving prostitutes condoms,” said one youth, “if we cannot stop them then at least they are safe.”
Many people have expressed their support for the needle exchange programme. The reasons for their support has included that access to sterile needle and syringe is one way of preventing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. Together with outreach and education programmes, antiretroviral therapy and treatment of sexually transmitted infections there can be a dedicated campaign to help combat HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Moreover if contraction of the diseases is prevented then the Ministry would save money on what would have been spent on antiretroviral therapy for people who have contracted HIV. Further there has not been any evidence of unintended consequences such as an increase in the number of discarded needles in the community and an increase in frequency of injection.
A quote from the England and Wales Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence suggests there is a greater advantage to the society to introduce this programme: “While needle and syringe programmes can help reduce the harm caused to people who inject drugs, the consequent reduction in the prevalence of blood-borne virus benefits wider society.”
“Stop the big fish then the Ministry of Health does not have to spend millions of rupees on what it does haven’t to spend its money on,” said another youth.
Some people have advocated against the needle exchange programme. It is often seen as an encouragement of self-harm or a crime. People are accountable for their actions and if they choose to engage in drug abuse then why must the Ministry of Health use tax payers’ money to accommodate their bad habits. Children and young people must get an unambiguous message that there are the correct choices in life and the wrong choices in life, and everyone must be responsible and not engage in drug abuse. It has been argued that the needle exchange programme takes away from the bigger picture as teaching drug users to inject in a safer manner they continue to support the rampant drug trade taking place and violence and theft all related to fuel their habit.
Here we have both sides of the story. Only 82 countries have adopted the needle exchange programme and the question is should we? What is the position in your country and how it is working?