(Photo by Flickr user Terry Minton, used under a Creative Commons license)
This morning, the Mayor’s Task Force to Combat the Opioid Epidemic in Philadelphia released its report on curbing the city’s opioid addiction crisis.
The 23-member task force came up with 18 recommendations for Mayor Jim Kenney after meeting across four months and conducting four “community listening sessions.”
Recommendations include encouraging awareness of the overdose-reversal drug naloxone and the somewhat-vague “expand treatment access and capacity.” Instead of including a recommendation for the creation of safe injection sites — a possible addition that was hotly debated at the task force’s meetings — the list instead recommends the mayor “further explore comprehensive user engagement sites.”
Here’s some context into the scale of the problem: According to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, there were nearly 700 overdose-related deaths in the city in 2015 — more than twice the number of deaths by homicide.
A March report ranking Philadelphia County as the least-healthy in Pennsylvania named drug overdoses as a big contributor to premature deaths: According to 2013-2015 data, the county had 1,486 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people, with a mortality rate of 32.
And in September, PolicyMap mapped out the spread of the epidemic from Philadelphia to other parts of the state over 10 years — revealing that it wasn’t spreading like a rash, but apparently randomly.
The task force was co-chaired by former Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services Commissioner Dr. Arthur Evans and Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley and included healthcare professionals, government officials and former opioid users.
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