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British Columbia Indigenous People Suffering More Overdose Death in 2020

The indigenous people of First Nations are fatally succumbing to the drug overdose. The First Nations Health Authority reported that 89 people of its community have met the unfortunate end after being overdosed by the illicit drugs. This is just the figure between January to May. This is a huge increase of 93% from the same period last year.

Dr. Shannon McDonald, Acting Chief Medical Officer of First Nations Health Authority said that the access to the harm-reduction services is limited now due to the COVID19 pandemic. She believes that the limited operations of the services are causing more fatal drug overdose cases. She identified that in British Columbia, there are only 3.4% of First Nations Population, but 16% of the drug overdose death has come from the community till May this year.

As per the records, the First Nations people experienced 3.8 times more overdose death than the rest of the residents in 2019. However, in 2020, this has increased to 5.8 times, and that explains the magnitude of the problem.

McDonald however explained that 6135 kits of overdose-reversing medication naloxone have been delivered via the First Nations sites and Aboriginal Friendship centers. She hopes that the statistics of overdose death would change in the months to come. She pointed out that seven community health centers provide suboxone and seven more are planned to be built in 2021. There are 98 new sites that are providing mental health and additional services as well.

Wellness Educator positions are being created as well to start the conversations about the harm of overdose. There are five such positions planned as of now. These would help people come out of the common barriers such as systematic racism and social stigma as well. It has been identified that the entire issue of addiction is also related to the overall mental health of the people.

Self-determination is the key stop to fight these demons, believes the authority. The First Nations Authority and the Provincial Government contributed $20mn in funding to build two new treatment centers and renovate others for facilitating treatment and support services.

However, there are many other obstructions in this issue as well. There are possibilities of facing charges for using small amounts of drugs for personal use to stop many to seek medical help. People do not seek support or treatment as they fear getting arrested, or losing a child or a job. The authority has thus asked the government to follow an evidence-based, non-stigmatized approach for the overall issue.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has also expressed concerns about the increasing death toll of the indigenous people and called to identify measures to support them.

Source: https://bc.ctvnews.ca/covid-19-measures-contributed-to-spike-in-od-deaths-among-b-c-indigenous-people-health-authority-says-1.5012878

About the author

Melissa Critch

Melissa Critch

Melissa Critch is a lawyer by day and journalist in the free time. She likes to fact check and report latest Canadian news.

Melissa's hobby is to surfboard on the biggest sea waves possible.

She can be reached out at: melissa.critch@blog.ca

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