The Perth District Health Unit is encouraging policy makers to use evidence when making decisions about drug policies. Last month, the Perth Board of Health agreed to endorse The Vienna Declaration by becoming a signatory on the Vienna Declaration website.
The Vienna Declaration is an international movement that is seeking to: “Improve community health and safety by calling for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies.”
The Vienna Declaration notes that international efforts to date, heavily focused on drug prohibition, have failed to stop substance misuse and have resulted in negative health and social consequences, such as a higher spread of HIV.
“Addictions are a medical issue,” says Dr. Miriam Klassen, Perth County’s medical officer of health. “It’s important to recognize that drug use is a reality for some people and they need harm reduction measures, support and access to treatment.”
While drug use and drinking in Perth County are generally similar to the rest of Ontario, rates of alcohol, cannabis and crystal meth use continue to be of concern in southwestern Ontario.
The Vienna Declaration calls for a reorientation of drug policies that respect and protect human rights. It calls for redirecting resources: “Towards where they are needed most: implementing and evaluating evidence-based prevention, regulatory, treatment and harm reduction interventions.”
The Health unit also circulated a letter to the newly formed Drug Strategy Task Force and to all public health units in Ontario encouraging other organizations to likewise endorse the declaration.
To view the Vienna Declaration, visit www.viennadeclaration.com.