Arizona committed to addressing opioid epidemic, governor says

With the Opioid Action Plan now enshrined in state law, Gov. Doug Ducey on May 29 ended the formal emergency public health declaration he issued last year and declared that Arizona’s commitment to addressing the opioid epidemic remains unwavering.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

“Today we enter a new front in this important effort. We’ve made some important and needed changes to state law that allow us to make this update in our fight, but make no mistake, this is not a moment to declare victory — far from it,” Gov. Ducey said in a release.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the most significant public health and safety emergencies our nation and the state of Arizona has faced in a generation — and we continue to lose too many Arizonans to it,” he said.

“Together, we’ve taken serious actions to address this epidemic by implementing comprehensive legislation that holds bad actors accountable, improves prescribing practices, ensures patient safety, enhances emergency responses and increases access to treatment. We know this fight is far from over and we aren’t going to let up,” he said in the release.

Dr. Cara Christ

“The emergency declaration helped us to immediately implement several public health strategies such as real-time data reporting as well as trainings for law enforcement and first responders on the use of naloxone, a lifesaving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said in the release.

“Over the course of the last year, we’ve worked with partners statewide to develop new tools that will have a lasting impact on reducing opioid overdoses and deaths,” she said.

“Even though though we’ve completed all of the directed activities and the emergency declaration has been terminated, we know our work is just beginning. The fight against the opioid epidemic will continue to be one of our top priorities,” Dr. Christ said in the release.

On June 5, 2017, Gov. Ducey signed an emergency declaration to address the growing number of opioid deaths in the state, giving the state the ability to coordinate public health efforts between state, local and private sectors.

It initiated a collaborative process between the Arizona Department of Health Services, law enforcement, hospitals and medical professionals, addiction specialists and other community stakeholders to fight the crisis head-on, according to the release.

The declaration and enhanced surveillance advisory allowed for the collection of real-time data on opioid overdoses, deaths, cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome and naloxone administered in the field. In addition to data collection, the declaration also directed ADHS to complete specific activities.

As of this month, all of the action items directed in the public health emergency declaration have been completed:

  • The new reporting and information-sharing procedures are codified in policy and rule.
  • Almost 1,000 law enforcement officers statewide have been trained to provide naloxone.
  • Healthcare institutions, such as hospitals and outpatient treatment centers, have rules for opioid prescribing and treatment.
  • The Arizona Opioid Prescribing Guidelines have been updated and distributed.
  • The comprehensive Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act went into effect on April 26.
  • And, the 12 recommendations of the Opioid Action Plan will be fully implemented by the end of June.

On May 30 Gov. Ducey and Dr. Christ were to provide testimony at the House of Representatives Homeland Security Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Field Hearing titled “An Unsecure Border And The Opioid Crisis: The Urgent Need For Action To Save Lives,” according to the release.

During the hearing, they were to highlight the many ways Arizona is combating the opioid epidemic – including partnerships across the state like the Border Strike Force, which has proven success in preventing opioids from traveling the borde, according to the release.

The Apache Junction Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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