SAN DIEGO: City Council To Consider Needle Exchange Program
A San Diego City Council committee will review a proposal next week to introduce a city needle exchange program, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The proposal, prepared by the Alliance Healthcare Foundation and to be presented to the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, calls for a task force of police and community representatives to work out the details of the program. Stephanie Casenza, a foundation spokesperson for the program, said that treatment or counseling would accompany any needle exchange. "These programs are good bridges to treatment. For many people, it's their one contact with anyone who knows anything about health," she said. Council members Harry Mathis and Byron Wear pledged their support for a program with "proper safeguards." Wear said he hoped that the program would reduce the number of dirty needles left in public places, while Mathis expressed his desire for a private group to fund and operate the program. "I just don't think government should be doing it," Mathis added. Casenza responded that the Alliance Foundation would pay for a two-to-three-year pilot program. San Diego Mayor Susan Golding has not taken a position on the proposal to form a committee, although Ric Grenell, her press secretary, stated, "She has supported syringe exchange programs in the past as long as they are combined with a comprehensive drug treatment program." Under California law, the city council must first declare a public health state of emergency before a needle exchange program can be instituted, something no San Diego County cities have done (Huard, 9/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.