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Winnipeg organizations concerned over naloxone kit supply issues

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Community organizations in Winnipeg are feeling the strain amid naloxone kit shortages.

Naloxone is a medication used to reverse the effects of opioids, and the short supply could have dire consequences.

For St. Boniface Street Links, an unlikely source has stepped in as a provider of naloxone.

"We actually have our drug users supplying the outreach team rather than the outreach team supplying the drug users. That’s quite a reverse, isn’t it?” said Marion Willis, founder and executive director of St. Boniface Street Links.

Willis said the doses are split between two outreach vans as the organization waits on its first naloxone kit shipment from the province's take-home naloxone program.

It was supposed to arrive last Friday but there's a supply chain-related delay. Willis said with every day that goes by the situation gets more frightening.

"Two vials may save a life, but given the drugs out there right now it may not be enough to revive somebody,” she said.

More than a week ago, Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY) told CTV News Winnipeg it was down to 60 doses and didn’t expect those to last very long.

"It's a desperate need and we just don’t have nearly enough of it still,” said Breda Vosters, RaY’s director of grants and information.

Vosters said RaY is still waiting on its naloxone kits, but, in the meantime, it's been able to get some doses of Narcan nasal spray through a nurse practitioner.

"It's a help for sure having this direct line to the WRHA as a solid partner to us is really, really good, but we just simply need so much more,” Vosters said.

The province said it distributed 2,000 kits last week to the highest-need locations. A thousand more have arrived and are meeting orders, and 9,000 more, which will cover all outstanding orders, are expected next week.

"Supply issues are expected to be resolved by the end of next week and the province will continue to have supply to meet the needs of Manitobans,” the province said in a statement.

Willis said she can only hope the few remaining doses will be enough.

"I can only hope the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service has better access than we do,” she said.

Last week, a Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service spokesperson said they had received no notifications regarding naloxone shortages.

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