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New mobile harm reduction van and vending machines for the northeast

A new harm reduction van in Prince Albert will distribute clean medical supplies five mornings a week. A new harm reduction van in Prince Albert will distribute clean medical supplies five mornings a week.

People in Prince Albert without transportation and means to access healthcare services can now attend to their health at a mobile harm reduction van, according to the Ministry of Health.

“It’s critical to connect with vulnerable clients who may not otherwise access mainstream healthcare services,” said Everett Hindley, minister for mental health and addictions, in a news release.

This is the fifth harm reduction van in the province. The Ministry of Health operates vans in Prince Albert, North Battleford, Yorkton, Saskatoon and Regina.

The harm reduction van will be open to serve clients five mornings a week, says the ministry. Besides providing healthcare and education, it will distribute clean needles, safer sex supplies and the overdose prevention medication Naloxone to clients.

The ministry says there’s evidence that harm reduction programs minimize the harmful effects of addictions and help reduce the transmission of sexually-transmitted and blood-borne infections, such as HIV and Hepatitis C.

The vans also accept used needles and aim to reduce the number of discarded needles on the streets.

The vans are staffed with healthcare workers who address the unique needs of each client, says Hindley.

“This creates greater opportunity for those struggling with addictions to engage on a path to recovery and treatment,” he said.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says harm reduction vending machines for the northeast region of the province are at various stages of consultation and implementation in the communities of Prince Albert, Melfort, Tisdale, Nipawin, Rosthern and Wakaw.

Plans are to install the machines in neighborhoods where they are accessible to those who need them so clean medical supplies are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Clients only receive access to these machines through a one-on-one consultation with a qualified SHA clinician or provider, said the Saskatchewan Health Authority in a statement to CTV News.

There are also plans to implement three new community wellness buses to travel to communities in south, central and northern regions says the Ministry of Health.

The government did not provide a timeline on when community wellnesses buses would be ready for clients. 

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