Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity has announced a $50 million pledge to help fight the country’s opioid epidemic. During his keynote address last Friday, at The Bloomberg American Health Summit in Washington, Mr. Bloomberg said he believes “we can turn the tide on this epidemic.” “And if we do,” he said, “we can begin reversing the decline in life expectancy that has been happening across the country, thanks largely to opioid overdoses.”
Over the next three years, Bloomberg Philanthropies said it will aid up to 10 states fight the opioid addiction and strengthen prevention and treatment programs. The charity has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University and Vital Strategies, to move forth its initiatives. The Philanthropic institution said, that CDC data shows that there were over 70,000 U.S. drug overdose deaths last year.
More than 47,000 of those overdoses were from opioids. Bloomberg’s foundation further said that this is a main factor towards the decline of life expectancy in the nation, over the past three years. “For the first time since World War I, life expectancy in the U.S. has declined over the past three years — and opioids are a big reason why,” said Bloomberg. “We cannot sit by and allow this alarming trend to continue — not when so many Americans are being killed in what should be the prime of their lives.”
This month, The Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed, in its National Drug Threat Assessment, that heroin, fentanyl and other opioids continue to pose the largest drug threat in the U.S.
As reported by VIN News, Pennsylvania will be the first state to receive funding from the Bloomberg charity. At least $10 million will be put to work in the state. In 2017, among all states, Pennsylvania had the highest number of drug overdose deaths. Nearly 5,400 Pennsylvania residents died of drug overdoses in 2017. The state’s rate of 44.3 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents, is more than double that of the national average. The treatment and prevention programs set in place there, will be used as a model for the rest of the country.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he was “deeply grateful” for the financial and technical resources his state will receive from the Bloomberg charity, and said he is “confident that this partnership will mark a turning point in our efforts.”
Mr. Bloomberg has been considering a 2020 Democratic Presidential bid. He has yet to make an official decision, but his spokeswoman did reply that there was “no stated link” between his $50 million contribution to fight opioids, and his political aspirations.
By Ilana Siyance
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