News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


A needle in the side of public safety

23 May, 2005

A needle in the side of public safety

The New Zealand Drug Foundation today criticised the Health Select Committee for turning its back on public health advice regarding the possession of needles used for injecting drugs.

In its report into the Misuse of Drugs Amendment bill, the committee ignored all public health evidence - including from the independent review of New Zealand's needle exchange programme - that had urged that penalties for possessing needles be scrapped.

"The Health Select Committee had the opportunity to significantly control the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C infection among the injecting drug community but they blew it," said Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell.

"One of the biggest obstacles to needle-exchanging is the fear of prosecution. Injecting drug users often feel they risk arrest by going to an exchange with used needles.

"Simply tinkering with the burden of proof has not removed the risk of arrest and the perception of harassment; therefore one of the greatest barriers to the needle exchange service remains.

"The police's opinion that their ability to prosecute under this provision was a useful drug-control measure fails to consider the public health benefits that removing the penalties would achieve," he said.

Mr Bell reminded the Committee that the independent review in 2002 recommended the removal of penalties and it was also the position of the Inter-Agency Committee on Drugs, prior to the police changing their mind.

New Zealand research into needle exchange services estimated that for every dollar spent on exchange programmes, $3.35 was saved in healthcare costs. Had these programmes not been introduced, by the end of 2001 there would be an extra 1454 people living with hepatitis C and 1031 living with HIV or AIDS in New Zealand.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Reuben Moss' Property is Theft! & Kaitani at The Physics Room

Property is Theft! continues Moss’ interest in the contemporary urban environment as a space controlled by pulsing and unequal flows of capital and labour. Kaitani features work by the University of Canterbury Fijian Students Association and Kulimoe’anga Stone Maka. More>>

Handcrafted Form: Rare Treasures From Japan

This unique exhibition at Expressions Whirinaki represents 90 everyday objects made by contemporary Japanese artisans who employ various traditional craft techniques made in regional workshops. The works used in daily life are crafted from raw materials with techniques appropriate to bringing out the best of its medium, balancing ease of use with aesthetic appeal. More>>

Howard Davis Article: A Musical Axis - Brahms, Wagner, Sibelius

Brahms' warm and exquisitely subtle Symphony No. 3 in F major, Wagner's irrepressibly sentimental symphonic poem Siegfried Idyll, and Sibelius' chilling and immensely challenging Violin Concerto in D minor exemplify distinct stages of development in a tangled and convoluted series of skirmishes that came to define subsequent disputes about the nature of post-Romantic orchestral writing well into the following century. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: A Pale Ghost Writer

Reviewed by Ruth Brassington, Richard Flanagan's new novel is about a novelist hastily ghost-writing the biography of a crook about to go to trial. The reader is kept on a cliff-edge, as the narrator tries to get blood out of his stone man. More>>

New Zealand Wars Commemoration: Witi Ihimaera's Sleeps Standing Moetū

The second of several articles to mark Rā Maumahara, remembering the New Zealand Land Wars. The first was a Q&A with Vincent O’Malley, author of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland