Opioid Crisis: Declaring a Health Emergency is not Enough

Press release – Dianova International Deems the Health emergency Declared by President Trump Insufficient to Thwart the Opioid Epidemic

Pick your painkiller

The directive by president Trump puts a welcome spotlight on the opioid epidemic but for the time being it does not release additional funds – photo by Eric Norris, licence: CC BY 2.0 – via Flickr

In an announcement made at the White House on Thursday, US President Donald Trump declared the opiate crisis a health emergency and vowed to alleviate the scourge of drug addiction that has swept the country.

Barcelona, October 2017 – Yesterday, the American president put forward the opioid epidemic and declared it a health emergency. This is no small problem. In 2016, seven people have died each passing hour from overdoses, adding up to a total of nearly 64,000 deaths.

Dianova International supports the statement by the US president because it emphasizes a crisis of enormous proportions and could, among other measures, permit the hiring of health specialists to tackle the epidemic and expand the use of telemedicine services to treat people in rural areas devastated by opioid use, where doctors are usually in short supply.

However, Dianova International regrets that Mr. Trump chose to declare the opioid crisis a “health emergency” rather than a “national emergency”, falling short of fulfilling a promise made in August. The latter designation would have made it possible to prompt the rapid allocation of federal funding to implement the medical treatments that most experts deem essential, whereas for the time being the president’s directive does not release any additional monies.

It is of particular concern to see that between 1999 and 2015, more than 560,000 people have lost their lives due to the opioid crisis, more than the entire population of Atlanta. For this reason, as an NGO, we are determined to pursue our efforts to provide addiction prevention services and to support those most concerned by the opioid epidemic.

We are convinced that the solution can only be implemented through a set of measures and objectives including that of reducing the number of opioid drugs prescribed by doctors. This number has already decreased by 18% between 2010 and 2015 and the government must not slacken in its efforts to achieve an even better outcome.

Lastly, we believe it essential that the government made a substantial financial effort to help American states and communities develop specific treatment for people with addiction disorders, without letting them seek them out by themselves. In this regard, it is necessary to implement or reinforce effective, evidence-based programs, including medium to long term, residential programs in therapeutic communities, and methadone and buprenorphine substitution programs.

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