Friday, May 02, 2008
Harper Tories "Despicable" - Really?
The lead author of a study of Vancouver's safe injection site says the attempts by the Harper government to muzzle scientist researchers and misrepresent their findings are "despicable." From the Globe & Mail:
"An article published in the International Journal of Drug Policy charges that the Conservative government interfered in the work of independent scientific bodies, attempted to muzzle scientists and deliberately misrepresented research findings because it is ideologically opposed to harm-reduction programs.
"From a scientific perspective, it's despicable," said Evan Wood, a research scientist at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and lead author of the study. "Governments should not hand-pick grants based on ideology."
In 2003, the Liberal federal government approved North America's first safe injection facility, allowing public health officials to provide sterile needles and emergency medical care to intravenous drug users.
The facility, called Insite, was granted an exemption from Canada's drug laws on the condition that the pilot project be subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation.
Since then, Dr. Wood said, there have been 22 peer-reviewed papers published on the program and they have all shown a positive benefit to users, such as reduced rates of transmission of HIV-AIDS and greater use of rehabilitation services.
An independent scientific review led Health Canada in the spring of 2006 to recommend that funding for the project be extended and that similar programs be tried in other cities.
But federal Health Minister Tony Clement intervened, saying there were too many unanswered questions and placed a moratorium on this type of research. The journal article says that was done at the behest of police organizations and based on political concerns, not sound public health policy."