West Virginia's Bureau for Public Health has officially suspended the certification of a harm reduction program following concerns over its needle exchange component.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the agency suspended the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department's Harm Reduction Syringe Services Program's certification following the Friday release of an independent evaluation of the program. That evaluation was requested by Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, who, along with law enforcement officials, accused the needle exchange program of causing an uptick in dirty needles in public places.
The needle exchange portion of the program was suspended in March. The agency's report calls upon the health department to follow several recommendations if the program is reinstated, including improving data collection.
The health department must reapply to obtain certification again.