20pc rise in number of syringes handed out in the Pilbara

Courtney FowlerPilbara News
This photo was posted on Facebook earlier this month by a concerned resident who found evidence of a used syringe, needle and bloodied cotton wool on the popular walking trail on TV Hill in Karratha.
Camera IconThis photo was posted on Facebook earlier this month by a concerned resident who found evidence of a used syringe, needle and bloodied cotton wool on the popular walking trail on TV Hill in Karratha. Credit: Pilbara News

Department of Health statistics have revealed that over the three-year period to 2014, the number of syringes being distributed to the public in the Pilbara increased by almost 20 per cent.

From January to December 2012, the use of syringes in the region was recorded at 95,048 — for the same period in 2013 it had jumped to 136,450, and in 2014 it slightly decreased to 113,915.

ThePilbara News was unable to obtain current data for 2015 because it will not be compiled until early next year.

But the findings come after recent reports of concerned residents on Facebook finding used needles and syringes dumped on public walkways and trails.

Safe injecting equipment, called Fitpacks, are distributed through pharmacies, the Nickol Bay Hospitals Emergency Department and other health services, such as the Population Health Unit and Mawarnkarra Aboriginal Health Service in Roebourne.

A spokeswoman for the health department said the needle and syringe programs were a “successful and essential” public health strategy for the prevention of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

“Needle and Syringe Programs are evidenced to be the most cost effective method in reducing harm associated with injecting drug use,” he said.

“They reduce the burden of disease on the individual, the family and the community and reducing the burden of cost incurred within the health care system.”

Most public toilets and amenities provided by City of Karratha and consumer centres like Centro Karratha and the Leisureplex have sharp disposal facilities.

City of Karratha mayor Peter Long said sharps or anything else harmful to the environment or community should be reported immediately to the City for appropriate action and should not be handled by individuals.

“Our Ranger vehicles are equipped with sharps disposal units so these items can be disposed of safely,” he said.

“Deliberate littering can be reported to the City through the Dob-in-a-Dumper report form on the City of Karratha website with penalties ranging from $500 for dangerous items such as glass and sharps and court fines from $1000.

“Council spends millions of dollars every year on initiatives that keep our City clean and safe for the community and has no tolerance when it comes to people rubbishing our environment.”

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