Share article:

    Wallonia to introduce safe needle spaces for drug users


    The parliament of the Walloon region has approved a measure which will introduce safe and supervised drugs-taking spacer in major cities from the autumn. The spaces are intended to reduce the risk to drugs users from side-effects of their habit, such as shared needles and unclean conditions – other than the effects of the drugs themselves.

    The proposal received the support of both majority and opposition in the Walloon parliament, with only one member abstaining.

    The spaces will allow drugs users to pursue their habit in clean and safe conditions, in the presence of medical professionals, as a measure of public health, a spokesperson for the proposing party CDH said. The accompaniment will also include the possibility of social aid, the provision of drug substitutes such as methadone and help for other related medical problems.

    The first such spaces will be opened in Liege in September, with others opening in other towns later. The measure still has to receive the approval of the federal parliament, where the Flemish N-VA party has expressed opposition. Despite this, a hostel in Antwerp, where N-VA controls the municipal council, has operated a similar system since last October.

    At present, there are about 90 such spaces in the whole of Europe, in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times