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The Scottish Ministerial Drug Deaths Taskforce has announced a £4 million funding for research and front-line services which include community pharmacies.

The funding boost is aimed to support the efforts to tackle drug deaths public health emergency over the next year.

Out of the total sum sanctioned, £1m will be provided for 10 research projects examining different approaches to tackle the public health emergency.

Remaining £3m will be allocated for Scotland’s Alcohol and Drug Partnerships to deliver on the six evidence-based strategies set out by the taskforce to reduce drug deaths and drug harms.

In addition, a new strategy to tackle ‘stigma’ will encourage a more informed and compassionate approach towards people who use drugs and their families.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “I’ve travelled all over the country meeting as many people who use drugs and service providers as possible and I have been told repeatedly that stigma is a real barrier to people accessing treatment.

“Stigma can come from many sources, but most damaging is self-stigma where people believe they are not worthy of support. It is costing lives every day in Scotland and I believe this new strategy will help us tackle what is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we face.”

Professor Catriona Matheson, chair of the Drug Deaths Taskforce, said: “Since the taskforce first met in September 2019, we have been urgently reviewing evidence of what can best address Scotland’s unique challenge, and putting that evidence in action.

“The Annual Report details our progress in identifying critical lines of enquiry and actions to take us forward. The taskforce recognises that we all need to get away from a search for a mythical, single, magic bullet and towards a programme of implemented strategies that not only works but engenders a new level of trust, sharing and collaboration in Scotland’s key agencies. We believe in positive, sustainable change.”

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