IPSWICH – The Board of Health wishes to inform the community that it will continue discussion next month of a potential syringe service program for the Town of Ipswich.
The Board has scheduled a meeting for Monday, June 6, at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall Room C. The public is invited to attend.
The Board began discussing the program at its meeting on May 9. The Board was approached by Susan Gould Coviello, Executive Director of the North Shore Health Project in Gloucester, to initiate the discussion. The Project has served the North Shore since 1988, and has operated this program in Gloucester since 2016.
At the June 6 meeting, Kevin Cranston, Assistant Commissioner and Director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, will attend to review the role of MDPH in the program. Representatives of the North Shore Health Project also will attend, and outline how the program will be structured if the Board of Health approves the program and MDPH selects it as the provider.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health supports programs where persons who inject drugs can access sterile needles and syringes through syringe service programs (SSPs). Through these programs, persons who inject drugs can obtain sterile needles and syringes free of cost, dispose used needles and syringes, and be connected to other services such as testing for hepatitis C, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections, overdose education, and Narcan (naloxone). Persons who inject drugs can substantially reduce their risk of getting and transmitting HIV, viral hepatitis, and other blood-borne infections by using a sterile (new) needle and syringe for every injection.
Research shows that comprehensive syringe service programs are safe, effective, and cost-saving, and do not increase illegal drug use or crime.
As of July 1, 2016, the local board of health in a Massachusetts city or town may approve the establishment of a syringe service program. Forty-one communities across the state have adopted such a program.
“We are interested in learning more about syringe service programs, and the information we receive will help guide us as we consider all options,” Board of Health Chair Susan C. Hubbard said. “We invite the community to attend and learn more about these programs as well.”