Injection rooms hit the streets for Denmark’s drug addicts

Two ambulances donated by Falck, the private emergency response service, are now operating as injection rooms for people addicted to drugs.

Clean needles will be available in the Vesterbro district and the ambulances will carry a team of volunteer nurses and doctors.

Michael Lodberg Olson, one of the project’s backers had tried to propose the injection room concept unsuccessfully earlier in the year. For a number of years now he has been trying to improve conditions on the streets of Vesterbro. He said: “We know from other countries that injection rooms and first aid on street level save lives and provide significantly better health for a very vulnerable group of people who currently are forced to take drugs under unsanitary conditions in the street.”

Each year it is estimated that around 300 addicts in Denmark do not survive an overdose – which is one of the highest figures in Europe. Dr Kaspar Iverson, one of the scheme’s volunteers, said the project offered a secure, clean environment away from the risk of violence and where no children are present.

The medical team is also there to make sure that the dangers associated with an overdose are limited. Although it is still not clear whether the injection rooms are legal under current regulations, the incoming government said before the elections that it would make them so, reported.

A recent poll suggested that around 70 percent of the Danish population is in favour of the idea. Health spokesman for the Social Democrats, Sophie Haestorp, had previously accused the government of endangering lives because of its opposition to the rooms.