More than 9,000 Canadians lost their lives between January 2016 and June 2018
OTTAWA,Dec. 12, 2018 /CNW/ - The opioid crisis continues to devastate communities and families from coast to coast to coast. Collecting and sharing data helps inform policies and interventions that will have a direct impact on
Today, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released data on behalf of the federal, provincial and territorial Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses on apparent opioid?related deaths in the first half of 2018 in Canada, as well as data on suspected opioid-related overdoses reported by emergency medical services. In addition, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released updated data on hospitalizations and emergency department visits due to opioid poisonings.
In the first half of 2018, more than 2,000 Canadians lost their lives. Tragically, that means more than 9,000 lives were lost in Canada between January 2016 and June 2018 to an apparent opioid-related overdose. These statistics suggest that we have not yet turned the tide on the crisis. Of the deaths reported in the first half of 2018 (January to June), 94% were the result of accidental overdoses, of which almost three quarters (72%) involved fentanyl-related substances. This indicates the continuing role of fentanyl contamination of the street drug supply in this crisis, highlighting the vital importance of increasing access to a safer supply of drugs to prevent death and other harms.
In addition to these deaths, thousands of Canadians have also experienced non-fatal opioid overdoses and related harms. Data released from CIHI today show a 27% increase in hospitalizations due to opioid-related poisonings over the past five years. In 2017, hospitalization rates were 2.5 times higher in smaller communities with a population of between 50,000 and 100,000 compared to Canada's largest cities.
PHAC has also released key findings from a special analysis of the impact of opioid overdoses on life expectancy at birth in Canada. Life expectancy in Canada, which increased by almost three years between 2000 and 2016, has slowed its progress, partly due to the dramatic rise in substance-related deaths, including opioid-related deaths.
The Government of Canada continues to take action, including removing barriers to access to treatment services across the country, improving access to harm reduction services and eliminating the stigma associated with people who use drugs so that they can access the health and social services they need to live healthier lives. We remain committed to working with all levels of government, stakeholders and people with lived and living experience to address the opioid crisis.
"The data released today represent individuals who have lost their lives—loved ones who have left behind families, communities, and others who may be struggling with problematic substance use themselves. These numbers are heartbreaking. One death is too many in this tragedy. The data released today will help us to continue to develop strategies to reduce deaths and to better inform public health interventions and policies for us all."The Honourable Ginette Petitpas TaylorMinister of Health
"Today's newly released data are concerning. Over the last two and a half years, there have been more than 9,000 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada. Data for the first half of 2018 indicate that most (94%) of these deaths were accidental poisonings, of which nearly three quarters (72%) were unintentional deaths involving highly toxic fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances. This continuing crisis requires our unrelenting commitment to a flexible and collaborative response from all partners"Dr. Theresa TamChief Public Health Officer of CanadaCo-chair, Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses
"Canada's opioid crisis is a serious public health issue that affects all provinces and territories and too many families across Canada. We are well aware of the devastating effects and have great empathy for those who are suffering. As we work on this crisis every day, we know there remains much work to do. Like our colleagues in the federal government, all provinces and territories are committed to stopping overdoses and using innovative ways to do so."Dr. Saqib ShahabSaskatchewan's Chief Medical Health OfficerCo-chair, Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses
"Opioid hospitalizations continue to increase in Canada and hospitalization rates in smaller communities are more than double the rates in larger cities –it is not just a big city problem. Our report provides valuable information to public health officials, policy makers and those working in the health care system. CIHI's monitoring of opioid-related harms and prescribing trends supports the work of Health Canada and our other partners across the country in their efforts to reduce the number of Canadians harmed each day by the opioid crisis."David O'ToolePresident and CEOCanadian Institute for Health Information
Overview of national data on opioid-related harms and deaths
SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada
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