The Red Cross in Iceland wants to explore an option tried in other countries with some success: creating a space for IV drug users to consume safely.
There are some 700 IV drug users in Iceland, RÚV reports, and about 13 of them die every year. Þórir Guðmundsson, the chairman of the Red Cross in Iceland, considers the situation to be very grave.
“That’s more people than have died in car accidents in Iceland [each year],” he told reporters. “So it’s a very serious matter.”
Contributing to this are the conditions in which addicts use.
“Homelessness has been increasing, which means people are shooting up in very bad conditions,” Þórir said. “It’s freezing, and people are outside doing this. So there is a great need for people to be able to have access to warm housing where health care workers are.”
Drug consumption rooms have been a reality across Europe for about three decades now, with the aim of providing a sanitary space under supervision, in the hopes of reducing both disease and overdoses. The evidence has shown that in places where there is access to these facilities, incidences of HIV and overdose have decreased.
The Red Cross in Iceland began discussing this idea with the previous Minister of Health, Óttar Proppé, and the plan is to make further progress with the idea with the current Ministry leadership.