Public health institute calls for safe drug use policy at festivals

Belgium's public health institute Sciensano is calling for a safe drug use policy at festivals instead of banning them, Mediahuis newspapers report on Monday. Two deaths occurred at Tomorrowland this year, with drugs not ruled out in either case.

In the past 11 years, six people have died at Tomorrowland. Four of those deaths were linked to drug use. The festival organisers say they are implementing a policy of control and safety. Sciensano is calling for more prevention and education, not only within the festival sphere but in society in general.

International studies confirm that harm reduction works, Sciensano says. This includes giving festival-goers the chance to have their drugs checked and providing a platform to talk about drug use.

"If we want to tackle the drug problem, we need to lower or even remove the stigma around it"

"Many users often don't know what they are buying and that could become unsafe. Warning about certain harmful drugs circulating at a festival via dynamic signs can also have a preventive effect," says Margot Balcaen of Sciensano's Belgian Early Warning System on Drugs.

Such a policy requires extra resources, Balcaen says. "But if we want to tackle the drug problem, we need to lower or even remove the stigma around it."


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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