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Call to open up drug use rooms

A deputy mayor of Paris has said opening salles de shoot for heroin addicts is now a matter of urgency

ROOMS for people to inject drugs in should be opened in the capital, says the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of health.

The question of salles de shoot - facilities where users can come to inject in a clean, safe space and get clean needles – has been raised again after Jean-Marie Le Guen said it had become a matter of “urgency”.

The so-called “shooting galleries” (or officially, “supervised injection sites”) are used in some other countries, like Switzerland, Germany and Spain.

“In Paris we are ready to put up one or several of these rooms very quickly,” Mr Le Guen told Le Parisien. “Marseille, Toulouse and Saint-Denis are also interested.”

He said the consumption of heroin – the drug most commonly injected - was increasing in the capital and more used syringes were being found in the streets.

The facilities would help the users as well as benefiting the local areas, he said. “I prefer that people who are living in a very precarious situation and are addicted to drugs, should use them in dedicated rooms rather than injecting themselves in a stairwell or in the street, like they do now; and also that they should have contact with health professionals so they can be supported towards giving up.”

Several associations involved in public health, like Médecins du Monde and Sidaction supported Mr Le Guen in a joint statement, as did Jean-Vincent Placé, the Senate’s green group president. Mr Placé said on LCI “Bravo to Jean-Marie Le Guen – I hope the government will rapidly allow this to be trialled.”

According to Mr Le Guen, President Hollande has previously said he is open to the idea. The opposition UMP however is firmly opposed, saying it insists on a prevention approach to drug use, not managing it, while the Front National has said it is a “crazy idea”.

The associations have said they do not want to see a “sterile debate” on knee-jerk party lines, stating that some right-wingers have expressed support for the idea in the past, including Roselyne Bachelot and Nadine Morano (ministers under Sarkozy) and Marseille mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin. Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has also said he favours the idea.

Photo: iceteastock - Fotolia.com_sml

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