IPSWICH – The Board of Health wishes to inform the community that it has authorized a syringe service program for the Town of Ipswich.
The Board approved implementation of the program at its regular meeting on Monday, June 6. At meetings in May and June, the Board met with Susan Gould Coviello, Executive Director of the North Shore Health Project in Gloucester, who approached the Board, and representatives of the North Shore Health Project. 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 (MDPH) explained that MDPH identifies the vendor to work in the community and funds the syringe service program once the board of health provides authorization.
The Board also sought input from community stakeholders.
As of July 1, 2016, a local board of health in a Massachusetts city or town may approve the establishment of a syringe service program in that city or town. More than 40 communities have approved such a program. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health supports programs where persons who inject drugs can access sterile needles and syringes through syringe service programs.
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.
Following the Board’s approval, the Department of Public Health will choose a vendor to provide programming to Ipswich residents.
“This is a positive step forward for our community,” Board of Health Chair Susan C. Hubbard said. “Research shows that syringe service programs reduce the spread of disease and improve health outcomes, and when combined with education and compassion can save lives.”