Galway Advertiser 2002/2002_10_24/GA_24102002_E1_003.pdf
Call for needle exchange programme to be provided in pharmacies
MARY O'CONNOR A GALWAY-based pharmacist - who is a former president of the Irish Pharmaceutical Union - is calling on the Government to provide a needle exchange programme in local pharmacies for heroin addicts. Brendan Quinn, who has worked with drug abusers in the past, says this initiative would have major benefits for addicts' health and the safety of the community. Research indicates Irish drug users have the highest rate of HIV and Hepatitis C in the EU. " Our union is keen to see this programme introduced. It is an obvious necessity. I am amazed it has taken so long. I know o f pharmacies in small towns in Galway who have up to four drug abusers coming in regularly for new needles. "Pharmacies shouldn't have to charge addicts for needles, the ones that do give them out usually sell them at cost." Sharing dirty needles can lead to infection with Hepatitis C or AIDS, he says. " Even small country towns have patients with full blown AIDS. Most addicts get infected from their closest partners. I'd estimate it costs about 1,500 euro a day to treat a patient with Hepatitis C or AIDS. This is a huge burden on the State. These patients have to be hospitalised and segregated." He describes providing a needle exchange programme as "an absolutely genuine case of a small amount of Government spending resulting in huge healthcare savings". 'We talk about the flu injection being a preventive measure, the same argument applies to needle exchange in relation to Hepatitis and AIDS." He accuses the State of allowing "snobbery" get in the way of providing a needle exchange programme in the past. "There is a belief that if you give addicts clean needles you are only encouraging them to shoot up and that places which provide these needles will become dens of depravity." This programme, together with the opening of a methadone clinic for heroin users at the Shantalla Clinic, would re-introduce drug addicts to a life of normality and dignity, says Quinn. " I welcome the methadone clinic and hope it will be a place where addicts will be stabilised. That's important. If you start handing out methadone willy nilly, you'll find bottles of it thrown around, like you see at Heuston Station." He accepts the argument put forward by former Western Health Board chairman Dr Greg Kelly who said in last week's Advertiser that he had reservations about methadone maintenance programmes, saying they do not address the real problems behind drug addiction. " Greg Kelly has a point. Methadone clinics supply addicts with a drug. But we're not living in a perfect world. There are not enough facilities and money around for detoxification programmes. "These clinics are stop-gap measures. It's safer to give methadone than finding dirty needles on Salthill Beach and at the Spanish Arch as is the case at present. You can see people shooting up at the Spanish Arch as you go by." He says is not aware of any local pharmacies administering methadone but says he would be " only too glad to do it". "A colleague of mine has 52 heroin patients. Most are stabilised. Very few cause problems. If they do, they will be disciplined and they won't get their methadone." Quinn says he is pleased to see Galway's drugs' problem being tackled. " There is a problem here with heroin and crack cocaine but really we are very lucky compared to other places. Crack cocaine is the most dangerous drug out there - the problem here has only emerged in the past five years."
Galway moves up a gear with DSL service from Esat BT
BY JULIE TIERNEY A NEW high speed, fixed cost internet connection service will soon be available to local businesses and internet users in Galway. The historic event launched by ESAT BT in Galway on Friday marks the arrival of fast, always-on, internet access to Galway. The project is part-funded by the EU under the Government's National Development Plan programme. The launch event, which was run in association with Galway Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was attended by members of the local business community, together with representatives from a number of other local groups and professional bodies. Digital Subscriber Line technology converts an existing analogue line into a high-speed digital line, which is permanently connected to the internet, providing businesses and users alike with broadband connectivity to data services. With DSL there is no need to make a dial up connection to the internet. The extra bandwidth provided by Esat BT DSL will offer speeds up to 30 times greater than ISDN Unes. DSL broadband connectivity also comes at a lower fixed monthly charge, which means that regardless of how often it is used or how many users are connected, the cost remains the same. Up until now, the monthly cost for a company accessing the internet for six hours each day on a 128k ISDN line was on average 240.74. Esat BT DSL yields savings of up to 50 per cent with a faster and more reliable service over the same time period. With Esat BT DSL you can now access the internet for as little as 3 per day. Speaking at the launch, Angela Keegan. director of SME and residential business at Esat BT, said: "For companies whose business increasingly relies on internet access, Esat BT DSL provides a serious and welcome alternative with tangible benefits in terms of speed, fixed cost, and improved productivity." Representing Galway Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Michael Coyle, chief executive, said: "We are delighted that Esat BT has provided this DSL service to the Galway area, which will facilitate high speed b r o a d b a n d telecommunications services and provide us with added value for prospective investment in the region." Esat BT is planning to provide Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line to customers over the coming months. This service will allow equal speeds for downloading and uploading to facilitate highvolume transfer of data.
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