DHW launches internal review of syringe exchange program

DHW Communications

Under the direction of Governor Brad Little, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) is launching an internal review of its contracts for services with Idaho’s syringe exchange programs after police executed a search warrant at Boise and Caldwell offices of the Idaho Harm Reduction Project (IHRP) on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Idaho law tasks the DHW Division of Public Health with implementing provisions of the Syringe and Needle Exchange Act passed in 2019. Nine organizations operate a safer syringe program, of which five receive supplies and resources from DHW. DHW has maintained a contract with IHRP since March 2020. 

A syringe exchange program provides access to sterile syringes, facilitates safe disposal of used syringes, and offers programming that refers users to treatment for substance use disorder, education about overdose prevention, and other related services.

“The department does not condone or support the use of illegal drugs or those who profit from it,” DHW Interim Director Dean Cameron said. “Substance use has a pervasive and devastating impact on Idaho families and children. The department supports all efforts to protect Idahoans from the impacts of illicit drug use.”

Director Cameron submitted a letter to Governor Little today with details about the immediate actions he is taking as part of the internal review. The letter is available here: https://publicdocuments.dhw.idaho.gov/WebLink/DocView.aspx?id=28851&dbid=0&repo=PUBLIC-DOCUMENTS

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.