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[Irish Medical Times] , Mudiwa, Lloyd Moves to enhance drug treatment services. (09 Apr 2014)

External website: http://www.imt.ie/features-opinion/2014/04/moves-t...

In his concluding analysis, Lloyd Mudiwa examines progress made under the treatment and rehabilitation pillar of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016.

The Department of Health has published the National Drugs Strategy (interim) 2009-2016 Progress Report to End 2013, which outlines progress to date in the implementation of the actions under the five pillars, including treatment and rehabilitation.

Under Action 39 — ‘Maintain and develop treatment services dealing with blood borne viruses, with particular emphasis on Hepatitis C treatment services’ — the HSE established a National Hepatitis C Strategy Implementation Committee in April 2013 to oversee and monitor implementation of recommendations of the Hep C Strategy, and has held three meetings during 2013.

Its terms of reference include facilitating communication and provision of information throughout the health services and wider community in respect of progress made on implementation of the recommendations, identification of emerging issues, updating recommendations in light of new evidence, and developing and encouraging synergies across the Hep C sector.

The development by the HSE, this time with support from the Department of Health, of a response to drug-related deaths was another Action (40) under the pillar. This was to be achieved through a National Overdose Prevention Strategy — a co-ordinated health response to the rise in deaths indirectly related to substance abuse — and a review of the regulatory framework for prescribed drugs.

One of the key actions contained in the Prevention Strategy September 2011 (unpublished) implementation plan is the development of guidance and protocols to explore the possibility of the enhanced availability of naloxone. Recommendation 4 advises that ‘the opioid antagonist Naloxone should be made routinely available in Ireland to opioid drug users’.

Furthermore in this document, there is a stated commitment to take actions, which focus on reducing the number of drug-related deaths and near-fatal drug poisonings.

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