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HSE in pledge to keep up Elton's funding

12 March 2010

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Irish Independent 18 December 2009

The Health Service Executive, Ireland makes a public commitment to continue funding community pharmacy needle exchange services after the Foundation’s grant ends.

Michael Brennan THE HSE has vowed to continue a new needle exchange project for drug addicts even after the ending of funding from pop star Elton John's Foundation.

Concerns have been expressed at what will happen to the service after the EUR750,000 grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation expires in three years time.

But at the Public Accounts committee yesterday, HSE assistant national director Alice O'Flynn said she was aware that the donation was a "once-off sum". She said: "From our point of view, what we would be intending to do is that the funding would be sustained."

Under the project, the HSE will roll out needle exchanges next year for heroin addicts in 65 locations such as the North East and the South East where no such services are provided at present.

Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs assistant secretary Kathleen Stack said there was an "ongoing battle" against drugs, despite the achievement of a "lot of success" under the 2001 to 2008 national drugs strategy.

She told the committee that heroin use had stabilised in Dublin in recent years, but was increasing in other areas around the country.