The Icelandic Ministry of Welfare and the City of Reykjavík have recently began working on a new supervised consumption centre for local drug addicts, Visir reports.
The goal is to provide injections sites where people with severe drug addictions can consume and inject drugs in a safe and clean environment without incurring the risk of contracting life-threatening diseases such as HIV. The facility will in fact provide clean syringes, sanitised needles and basic assistance from healthcare professionals.
The Red Cross claim that around 700 individuals are currently injecting and that at least a dozen of them die every year. Most of them are concentrated in the capital area and rarely seek the assistance of hospitals or emergency rooms. Some rely on the help of Red Cross volunteers, who have been driving around the city and providing sterilised equipment for years. The creation of a government-funded facility, however, could accommodate the needs of a much larger group of people with an addiction.
The request to open a safe consumption facility was originally issued by a MP from the Pirate Party, Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, and has recently been accepted by Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir. The Minister has insisted we look at the positive effects of these centres in other countries, arguing that punishing drug addicts with prison sentences has long been proven ineffective at best.
Around 74 similar centres are operating in various European cities. “I have recently discussed this with the mayor of Reykjavík, so I expect it won’t be long before we’ll see it happen here,” she told Vísir.