Editor, the Times:
Re: 'Mayor calls out Fraser Health following harm reduction forum', Times, Feb. 5.
It seems there continues to be some misconception about Fraser Health's Public Health and Mental Health and Substance Use program's commitment to the residents of Abbotsford.
I would like to be clear. Fraser Health has been, and will continue improving the health and health care of the residents of Abbotsford.
We have a mandate to deliver a range of health care services, including harm reduction, to all Fraser Health communities.
These are services that are available across the province and endorsed by the Minister of Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control.
By not providing these services to residents of Abbotsford we will contribute to the increased prevalence of disease, in particular Hepatitis C.
We believe in working closely with our communities and engaging directly with Abbotsford's leadership to promote, and protect, the health of its residents.
We will continue to work in this manner and to be clear, legal action is not being considered by Fraser Health.
Harm reduction (which includes needle exchange) and detox are not mutually exclusive philosophies.
Both are part of a continuum of service and we believe we have sufficient resources in place to meet the detox needs of Abbotsford's residents.
The residents of Abbotsford have access to a wide variety of detox and substance use services in the region including River-stone Home/Mobile Detox in Chilliwack and Creekside Withdrawal Management Centre in Surrey.
Detox does not work in isolation but in partnership with other substance use services such as Abbotsford Addictions Clinic, IMPACT, Kinghaven and Peardon-ville House Society.
Facilitating access to these services is also important. Fraser Health recognizes that stable housing and transportation challenges continue to pose barriers to clients. That is why we work with our partners to alleviate these pressures.
Fraser Health will continue to intensify our communication efforts about detox and harm reduction services and the role of detox in the scope of these services. Detox is not a place or a bed, it's a process; one which we will continue to facilitate in partnership with Abbotsford's leadership. Fraser Health looks forward to working with our partners in Abbotsford.
Dr. Nigel Murray President and CEO Fraser Health Authority