Home > The Irish Needle Exchange Forum conference.

Keane, Martin (2010) The Irish Needle Exchange Forum conference. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 33, Spring 2010, p. 27.

PDF (Drugnet Ireland, issue 33) - Published Version

The Irish Needle Exchange Forum (INEF) held its inaugural conference at the Malton Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry, on 5 November 2009. The INEF is the first dedicated resource for those working in the field of harm reduction and needle exchange (NX) in Ireland and is linked to the main national and international harm reduction organisations. The forum aims to provide those working in the field with a platform to initiate open, informed discussion and debate, and to raise concerns and move issues forward, to identify and promote good practice in the development and delivery of needle exchange services. The INEF believes that harm reduction complements abstinence-based approaches by providing service users with the knowledge and tools to stay safe until they can achieve and maintain abstinence 

The INEF conference was well attended. Speakers in the morning session included Dr Shane Butler, who spoke about extending needle-exchange provision across the Irish healthcare system; Tony Duffin, director of Ana Liffey, who discussed harm reduction within the continuum of care approach, and Tony Geoghan, director of Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), who presented a profile of service users at the needle-exchange facility in MQI. International speakers included Rick Lines, who presented evidence on the effectiveness of needle- and syringe-exchange programmes in prisons, and Jamie Bridges, who explored the concept of harm reduction; both Rick and Jamie work for the International Harm Reduction Association (IRHA).
The afternoon session included three workshops: needle and syringe provision for adolescent users; working with women drug users who engage in risky sexual behaviour; and blood-borne viruses. The workshops were very well attended and covered many practical issues that were relevant to front-line workers. The afternoon session also included presentations from Martin Chandler (UK), who presented on research that examined the risks of taking performance and image-enhancing drugs (PIEDS), and Lloyd Belcher (UK), who presented on research into secondary peer needle exchange programmes. John Craven from the HSE East Coast Area Addiction Services presented a profile of the needle exchange back-packing service that is delivered locally.
Dr Denis O’Driscoll, chief pharmacist at HSE Addiction Services Dublin Mid-Leinster, and Mr Rory Keane, Regional Drug Co-ordination Unit HSE Mid-West, presented an overview of plans to provide additional needle exchange-services through community pharmacies in 65 new locations across the country. It is envisaged that the services will be targeted to areas outside Dublin and the former Eastern Regional Health Authority. The services proposed will come from a new partnership between the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF). The service will be part-funded by the EJAF for three years, with matching funding by the HSE. The HSE will take responsibility for funding in year four. It is envisaged that in the first year a national pharmacy co-ordinator will be appointed and regional pharmacy liaison staff and participating pharmacies will be recruited. These actions will be supported by developing a training programme for participating pharmacists. Needle-exchange services will be provided free in pharmacies and will include both custom-made and standard packs. It is envisaged that the service will exchange new injecting equipment for old, provide sharps bins and advice on safe disposal of used equipment, information on safer-injecting and safe sex practices, and advice on drug use and other health-related issues.
The INEF is chaired by Mr Tim Bingham.

Repository Staff Only: item control page