Province more than doubles support for needle distribution programs (08/11/28)

NB 1740

Nov. 28, 2008

FREDERICTON (CNB) - Funding will be more than doubled for needle distribution programs throughout New Brunswick, Health Minister Michael Murphy announced today.

"Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day 2008, an occasion that highlights the importance of protecting public health so that New Brunswickers can be well, be self-reliant and be involved in our province's efforts to be self-sufficient by 2026," Murphy said. "Our government is investing more in needle distribution programs because public health experts have affirmed they are an effective way to prevent the spread of AIDS and the viruses that cause hepatitis B and hepatitis C."

Three organizations - AIDS New Brunswick, AIDS Saint John and SIDA/AIDS Moncton - deliver needle distribution programs in the province through community partnerships and volunteers.

This year, the Department of Health is contributing more than $100,000 for the purchase of needles, syringes and related supplies. Murphy said another $150,000 will be provided - $50,000 to each organization - so they may hire staff dedicated for distribution programs.

The funding will begin this year and will be provided annually under the terms of a three-year agreement between the department and the three organizations.

"AIDS New Brunswick, AIDS Saint John and SIDA/AIDS Moncton are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver these programs solely through volunteer support," Murphy said. "This investment will help these organizations to meet the demand for these programs."

The number of needles being distributed is expected to rise to 620,000 this fiscal year from 120,000 in 2004-05.

Murphy said the additional funding is in keeping with the objective of the provincial health plan to improve services for people who struggle with addictions.

Transforming New Brunswick's Health-care System: the Provincial Health Plan, 2008-2012 was launched in April. It features more than 100 initiatives to ensure that the health-care system will meet the needs of patients and be sustainable for future generations.

World AIDS Day is observed each Dec. 1 to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.


MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Cumby, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522.