Across North America, illicitly manufactured fentanyl has fuelled an opioid overdose crisis, worsening the spread of infectious diseases and leading to mass incarceration. Canada has embraced a harm reduction approach to address the negative consequences associated with substance use, and has a platform upon which to continue developing evidence-informed drug policy. But unfortunately, measures like these are not widely used in high-need regions, such as Latin America.
As Canada Research Chair in Substance Use and Health Policy Research, Dr. Jaime Arredondo Sanchez Lira is building on the Canadian experience to generate new evidence for two harm-reduction interventions in the global South: safe consumption sites, and community drug checking (which involves checking drug samples for purity and contaminants, and tracking drug use patterns). Ultimately, he and his research team hope that their focus on drug use as a public health issue-rather than a public safety one-will lead to better solutions for Latin America.