Health Unit Launches Opioid Strategy
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Today The Windsor-Essex Community Opioid Strategy Leadership Committee (WECOS-LS) officially released their proposed opioid strategy consultation document, and is now asking for community feedback.
Comprised of senior leaders from multiple organizations in our community, including emergency services, The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, and local education boards and hospitals, the WECOS-LS “began approximately a year ago, and has grown in strength and numbers since the initial meeting,” says Bruce Krauter, Essex-Windsor EMS Chief and co-chair of WECOS-LS.
The consultation document, which was presented by committee co-chair and Acting Medical Officer of Health for The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, presents a four-pillar opioid strategy approach and an eight-point action plan.
“We want to reduce people from getting addicted to the opioids in the first place,” says Ahmed, explaining the goals of the first pillar: prevention and education.
“The biggest piece, in terms of the education, is to dispel the misconceptions. This is not a socio-economic problem, where it’s a certain core within the community. This is every household, and it’s critical that folks in our community certainly understand that,” says Gary McNamara, Mayor of the Town of Tecumseh.
The strategy goes on to promote harm reduction, treatment and recovery, and enforcement and justice in its subsequent pillars. The eight-point action plan is a proposed implementation process to achieve the goals of these pillars.
“Opioid misuse is a complex problem and it requires a strong collaboration between many stakeholders, including the community itself,” says Ahmed, introducing the next phase of the WECOS-LS’s plan – community input.
On October 17th and 18th the committee will be holding two community consultation events, at the Downtown Windsor YMCA and Leamington Kinsmen Recreation Complex, respectively. These events will feature members of the WECOS-LS as well as a guest speaker from the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, and their aim is to receive input on the proposed strategy from the public who deal directly with opioid addiction.
The total rate of opioid users in Windsor-Essex is 18.9 per cent above the provincial average, and the region saw a sixty-five per cent rise in opioid-related deaths between 2015 and 2016.
“The main thing we’ve got here is we’ve got lives out there that we’ve got to save. Not only the ones who are presently addicted, but those who are being tempted to get on that scene,” says Tom Bain, Essex County Warden and Mayor of the Town of Lakeshore.
Space for the community consultations is limited and interested parties can register online on the health unit’s website, or by calling 519-258-2146 ext. 3100.