Reaching Priority Populations in the Region of Waterloo

Now halfway through my practicum placement at the Infectious Disease, Dental and Sexual Health (IDS) division at the Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services, I have began to feel more comfortable and at ease in my position as a Health Promotion Research Analyst. I am enjoying all the workshops and learning opportunities I have access to enhance my knowledge and learning in Public Health. For example, last week I attended an informative presentation on fentanyl use in the Region of Waterloo presented by the Chief of Police, where I was able to gain more insight into the opioid epidemic from a first responder's perspective. In terms of my primary project, so far I have completed the data analysis and write-up for two internal reports:

  1. Priority Population Assessment of Sexual Health Services
  2. ​Priority Population Assessment of Harm Reduction Services

Moving forward, I will be presenting a summary of the findings to the divisional managers. From there, the divisional managers will decide how to change sexual and harm reduction services to better reach the outlined priority populations for such services (e.g. immigrants, male youth, sex workers, etc.). In other words, my supervisor has assured myself these internal reports will not go unread and will inform divisional changes over the next few months!

Aside from my completion of two internal reports, it has been an exciting month at IDS. Earlier in the month, my supervisor and fellow coworker presented at a Regional Council meeting to share findings from the Waterloo Region Substance Use Study and to propose the idea of bringing safe injection sites to the Region. Although the Regional Council was in favour of safe injection sites, they are aware the larger community may not welcome the idea. Therefore, consultations with the public are necessary to move this project forward.