A new report on the Canadian opioid crisis shows that the strong drugs cause increasing harm rates in smaller communities, including Belleville.
The city had a sixth highest hospital rate in Canada due to opioid poisoning, researchers with the Canadian Health Information Institute discovered in 2017. Data was released today, of the name Opioid-Related Harms in Canada.
"There's a terrible statistic to see that our community runs so high," said Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Hastings and the healthcare officer of the County Edward Counties.
"That really really reinforces we have a lot of work to do," he said, calling the confirmation report of the need for the health unit's opioid harm reduction programs.
"Less Canadian communities suffer from the rates of opioid poisoning hospitals that are more than twice the largest cities in Canada", read the report.
The study examined opioid-related data, mainly from 2017, from communities across the country.
In that year, 23 hospitals at Belleville were about significant opioid poisoning. The city's rough rate of cases per 100,000 of the population was 44.5.
The rates of hospitals in communities with 50,000 to 99,999 people were 2.5 times in the largest Canadian cities.
Toronto rate was 8.9, Montreal 6.5, Vancouver 20.4.
Yet the Brantford rate of 50.9 was more than 3.5 times in the Ontario average.
The report found that hospital rates for opioid poisoning increased by 27 per cent in the last five years, including an increase of eight per cent in 2017 of the previous year. The emergency rate visits rate due to opioid poisoning in Ontario rose by 73 per cent between 2016 and 2017, the organization reported.
On average, 17 Canadians had their hospitals everyday in 2017 for opioid poisoning.
"Hope it will address different communities that they would not be aware that they were being affected by the opioid crisis," said Roger Cheng, who leads the organization's opioid reporting team in a telephone interview.
"Policy makers, public health officers, could look at the results of this report and start identifying areas that are most affected and initial referral resources" to programs that could help reduce harm, he says.
Cheng said that the report was preparing a picture of the harm done across the country but the analysis did not investigate the reasons behind the numbers.
"It's hard to identify a specific reason because this is an incredibly complex issue."
However, he said, efforts to reduce the impact have an impact. There is now an increasing effort to change prescribing practices, provide more secure spray sites.
"We see lots of good things happening there in terms of trying to get rid of this issue," said Cheng.
"These measures are already making a difference.
"We do not know how bad the crisis would be if these harm reduction measures were not in place," said Cheng.
Hospitals associated with opioids across the country dropped over the last three months of 2017 and the first three months of 2018, the analysis showed. Cheng said he still does not know if that was "blip" or started a bigger trend, but the monitoring of researchers of the statistics will continue.
Wednesday's report is the fourth institution since 2016 on the opioid crisis.