Towards a provincial policy framework for substance use services in BC

Opioid use disorder is one of the most challenging forms of addiction facing the health care system in BC and is a major driver of the recent surge in illicit drug overdose deaths in the province. In the context of the current public health emergency, Provincial Health Services Authority agencies the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS) have identified an urgent need for a policy framework articulating the full range of therapeutic options for the optimal treatment and harm reduction measures those with opioid use disorder.

Drawing on his expertise on substance use, first responder support and policy development, Adam Vaughan will work with experts and researchers at BCCDC and BCMHSUS, senior decision makers in the BC Ministry of Health and regional health authorities, and various addiction-related departments at UBC and SFU to develop a provincial policy framework that outlines a proposed continuum of care for those who require harm reduction, overdose prevention and opioid treatment services.

Vaughan's work on an opioid use disorder continuum of care will also contribute to the current development of an overarching provincial substance use policy framework and ultimately help advance BC drug policy. 

Integrating equity and cultural safety lenses to promote Indigenous health in BC’s southern interior

Interior Health (IH) serves more than 215,000 km² of BC’s southern interior. This part of BC falls within the traditional, unceded territories of the Secwepemc, Ktunaxa, Syilx, Nlaka’pamux, Ulkatcho, Tsilhqot’in and St’at’imc peoples. Within these territories are people, both on and off reserve, who live in small urban, rural or remote communities. The First Nations, Metis, and Inuit populations served by IH are disproportionately affected by health inequities. 

IH’s Aboriginal Health team is currently exploring ways in which health equity and cultural safety can be more systematically integrated into IH’s operational processes, program planning, and policy arenas. Dr. Shahram will focus on creating a policy proposal for broad integration of health equity impact assessments into the cultural fabric of IH — making culturally safe, equity-centred thinking the norm for leadership and practice. 

Dr. Shahram will bring her health research expertise and engaged scholarship methodologies (e.g. action research, integrated knowledge translation), and work with IH leadership to create a strategic plan for capacity building and policy change that will enable the advancement of a system-wide policy agenda aimed at integrating cultural safety and health equity assessment into IH policy and operations.

Dr. Shahram received a 2016 Research Trainee Award to examine how health equity strategies in the BC public health system could benefit from Indigenous knowledge and worldviews. This award will placed on hold during her health policy fellowship assignment.