January 15, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

There are only two cities in Canada (Kelowna and Brantford) where more people per capita are going to hospital for opioid overdose than London.

Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU), will be on campus to discuss this dire issue. The upcoming King’s Hour, “The Opioid Crisis and how it Impacts London” will be held on January 24, 2018 at 3:30 p.m. in the Kenny Theatre. The one hour talk includes time for questions from the audience. All are welcome. Parking is available in lot 1 on the north side of Epworth Ave.

The MLHU says opioid overdoses claim about 30 lives a year and shows signs of worsening. As a champion of harm reduction, Dr. Mackie has established support among citizens and policy-makers for London’s award-winning Naloxone Program. Naloxone is a medication that temporarily reverses the effects on an opioid overdose. People who are at risk of opioid overdose, as well as those who may witness an overdose, will be trained to administer naloxone. Once trained, individuals are given a pocket-sized overdose prevention kit which includes two doses of Naloxone.

Over his tenure, the MLHU has implemented an innovative priority setting and budgeting process that has already shifted more than six percent of MLHU resources out of lower-impact areas into programs that make the greatest difference. 

Dr. Mackie announced on Twitter that the MLHU submitted the first application in Ontario for a temporary overdose prevention site. “This is a turning point in the drug crisis in London, Ontario. Treating people with respect changes the game,” Dr. Mackie tweeted on January 12, 2018.

The MLHU recently received $250,000 from the province as part of a $15-million effort across Canada in response to the opioid crisis.

The opioid crisis has been worsening across Canada.  The federal government introduced updated prescription guidelines in May 2017 in hopes of curbing the crisis after the Public Health Agency of Canada reported a national opiod death rate of 8.8 per 100,000 population.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit sounded the alarm a year ago after discovering local HIV rates were climbing while provincial rates were on the decline. In London, more than 2.5 million needles are distributed to drug users each year.

In preparation for King’s Hour, here are some articles with background information on the drug problem:

Naloxone Program media release [PDF] (May 13, 2014)

Middlesex-London Health Unit receives $250K to battle opioid crisis (June 21, 2017)

Premier Kathleen Wynne says government will announce 'significant additional resources and supports' for opioid crisis (August 29, 2017)

Opioids in London: New figures, same concern (Sept 16, 2017)