Politicians and health-sector officials from across Windsor-Essex were on hand to release a strategy they say will battle rising rates of opioid-related overdose and death in the community.

The Opioid Strategy Leadership committee co-chairs Dr. Wajid Ahmed, who is the acting medical officer of health at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, and Chief Bruce Krauter of Essex-Windsor EMS presented the plan, a set of short and long-term actions under the areas of prevention and education, harm reduction, treatment and recovery and enforcement.

According to the Health Unit, the activities range from community education campaigns to developing an overdose response and monitoring system. The plan was developed based on effective practices from across North America, but refined using feedback from residents in Windsor-Essex.

The development process included a scan of existing support and treatment services in Windsor-Essex, two community forum consultation events, and a feedback survey, according to a media release from the Health Unit. Dr. Ahmed emphasized the importance of community input in developing the strategy.

“Without including the personal perspectives of those with lived experience, as well as their friends and loved ones, this strategy would not have been truly representative or focused enough to achieve all that it intends for those impacted in our community,” Ahmed said.

Working groups will meet in the coming months to discuss the four focus areas and prioritize the activities detailed in the report.

“No single approach or strategy will fully address an issue as complex as the opioid epidemic occurring across the province and country,” said EMS Chief Krauter. “This set of actions looks beyond what any one of our organizations can do in isolation and towards the collective impact of a number of community groups working toward the same goals.”