The evidence is overwhelming that NSPs save lives and money, and reduce the health risks associated with sharing, says the Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, Ms Catherine King.
“In the decade to 2010, NSPs are estimated to have prevented over 30,000 cases of HIV and around 100,000 cases of hepatitis C,” she says. “As a result, NSPs averted 4500 deaths from HIV by 2010.”
Ms King says the national NSP network was established in 1987 in response to the HIV epidemic.
“Since then the program has grown and evolved with Labor’s ongoing support. There are now around 3500 NSPs in Australia, distributing over 30 million needles and syringes a year.”
NSPs are also cost-effective, she says, quoting research that for every dollar Australia invests in NSPs, it saves $4 in health care costs and $27 in total costs to the community. “NSPs saved between $2.4 billion and $7.7 billion in health expenditure over 12 years.”
“The last Labor Government funded the Penington Institute to develop Australia’s first National NSP Strategic Framework. Among other priorities, the Framework called for a nationally consistent training model for NSP workers and national minimum data standards.
– Andrew Stephens