“We must leverage every resource,” PHI statement on Opioid Emergency Declaration
Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs & Mental Health
STATEMENT FROM CARMEN NEVAREZ, MD, MPH, VICE PRESIDENT FOR EXTERNAL RELATIONS; PREVENTIVE MEDICINE ADVISOR; DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA OPIOID SAFETY NETWORK
“PHI welcomes today’s call from the White House to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. With an epidemic that is killing 175 Americans a day, we must leverage every tool we have to save lives and turn the tide.
“Successful efforts need more than an emergency declaration, however. They require long-term funding and resources. Telemedicine—a winning strategy for reaching every person in need, especially those that don’t have easy access to recovery services—requires new reimbursement mechanisms. Those seeking treatment need access to Medicaid and affordable healthcare. We must protect and deepen public health resources in the federal budget to ensure that states, local governments and community organizations have the resources and capacity to tailor solutions to address this crisis in the communities where they live. And we must prioritize a public health approach over a criminal justice response to all substance abuse issues, not just opioids.
“We know what works: a public health approach that focuses on care, harm reduction and reducing the conditions that contribute to addiction in the first place. Tackling an Epidemic, a PHI assessment of California’s extensive statewide opioid safety network, found that local coalitions are having a big impact. Among the 16 coalitions, representing 23 counties across the state, over 90% have introduced safer prescribing guidelines and more than 75% have increased access to naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses. More than 50% expanded use of medication-assisted addiction treatment.
“The opioid epidemic was decades in the making, and will take many years to reverse. A ninety-day emergency declaration is a good start. We look forward to seeing it backed up by a long-term investment in saving lives and rebuilding devastated communities.”