Health dept. gets $350K to fight opi­oids

The Progress-Index Weekend - - LOCAL - Con­trib­uted Re­port

WASH­ING­TON — As part of the Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to ad­dress the opi­oid epi­demic, child­hood obe­sity and se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness in com­mu­ni­ties through­out the coun­try, the Of­fice of Mi­nor­ity Health (OMH) at the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices (HHS) to­day an­nounced just over $5 mil­lion in new co­op­er­a­tive agree­ment awards to 15 or­ga­ni­za­tions. The awards were made through the OMH Em­pow­ered Com­mu­ni­ties for a Health­ier Na­tion Ini­tia­tive (Em­pow­ered Com­mu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive), which was cre­ated to help mi­nor­ity and dis­ad­van­taged pop­u­la­tions in com­mu­ni­ties dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by the opi­oid epi­demic, child­hood obe­sity and se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness.

“We se­lected the opi­oid cri­sis, child­hood obe­sity and se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness as our top three clin­i­cal pri­or­i­ties at HHS be­cause they are three of the coun­try’s most press­ing pub­lic health con­cerns,” said Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Tom Price, M.D.

The Em­pow­ered Com­mu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive pro­vides fund­ing to com­mu­ni­ties grap­pling with some of the na­tion’s most im­me­di­ate and grow­ing pub­lic health chal­lenges. Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, the num­ber of over­dose deaths in­volv­ing opi­oids in the U.S. has quadru­pled since 1999, and more than 500,000 peo­ple died from drug over­doses from 2000 to 2015.

The CDC also reports that obe­sity af­fects about 12.7 mil­lion chil­dren in the U.S. (2011-2014) and obe­sity rates are higher among African Amer­i­cans and Lati­nos. Ac­cord­ing to the Sub­stance Abuse and Men­tal Health Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion, there were nearly 10 mil­lion adults with se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness in 2014, and peo­ple with se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness are more likely to be un­em­ployed, ar­rested, have in­ad­e­quate hous­ing and die at an early age.

The Em­pow­ered Com­mu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive pro­motes com­mu­ni­tybased col­lab­o­ra­tions, in­clud­ing aca­demic re­search cen­ters and pre­ven­tion cen­ters, to im­prove the health of com­mu­ni­ties where opi­oid mis­use, child­hood obe­sity and se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness pose the great­est threats.

For ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion go to www.mi­nor­i­ty­health.hhs.gov.

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