In response to reports of needles and other sharps, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) Harm Reduction team installed nine sharps disposal kiosks throughout Haldimand and Norfolk counties earlier this year.
The program is part of a harm reduction strategy to reduce the number of needles and syringes found discarded in the community. It is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“People in our community use needles/sharps for many reasons and there is a need for 24-hour public access to safe places to dispose of them,” said Stephanie Tooke, public health inspector.
The sharps kiosks are securely mounted in highly visible areas throughout the counties. They include a large chute to ensure all needles, syringes and disposal containers are deposited without the ability to be retrieved.
“The provision of safe and secure sharps disposal units has proven effective in other communities to reduce the number of needles discarded in public spaces”, said Tamara Robb, public health nurse.
“Over a 4 month period 7600 needles/syringes have been disposed in the sharps kiosks. This is an important step in helping our communities to be safer by reducing the risk of needle-stick injuries and ensuring that people can access sharps disposal without barriers.”
The sharps kiosks initiative is one component of the harm reduction strategy, which also includes a needle exchange program. This is where individuals can access clean and sterile needles, syringes and other supplies to reduce the harm associated with injection drug use.
Naloxone is available to individuals at risk of opioid overdose and to concerned friends or family members.
The HNHU is asking the public to report any needles found in the community. This information is invaluable to the Harm Reduction Team to evaluate the locations of the kiosks.
Online reporting and useful resources on how to safely dispose of needles can be found on the HNHU website. To report a found needle, please visit https://hnhu.org/health-topic/needles-found-in-the-community-report-form/
For a list of kiosk locations, please visit https://hnhu.org/health-topic/sharps-needles/