Vol. 17, ed. 2

March 2021

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Foreword

Thank you to all who engaged with the first issue, which was a bumper edition to celebrate the Bulletin’s return to sharing the vital knowledge and insights of frontline workers.

In this edition we feature the extraordinary resilience of NSP workers around Australia overcoming the challenges created by COVID-19.

Australia has had its battles with the pandemic. However, each passing day shows that the virus is dramatically escalating the overdose crisis in other parts of the world, especially North America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alarming media statement late last year, noting that the record 81,000 overdose deaths in the United States in the 12 months leading to May 2020 were primarily driven by synthetic opioids including fentanyl. Their recommendation was to expand access to naloxone, increase awareness of treatment pathways, and earlier intervention for people at greatest overdose risk.

This Bloomberg editorial notes a surge in opioid overdose deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and recommends increased funding for treatment and better access to pharmacotherapy.

And in this interview, Michael Barnett of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health explains how the COVID pandemic is “in many ways a perfect storm” for people struggling with their drug use.

The evidence is overwhelming. However, there is perhaps a little light at the end of the tunnel. The massive COVID-19 relief bill recently signed into law by President Joe Biden includes US$30 million for “community-based overdose prevention programs, syringe service programs and other harm reduction programs.”

Our thoughts are with our colleagues on the frontlines in North America and around the world.

As always, please write to us with your feedback about The Bulletin and the types of stories you would like to read in future editions.

And if you haven’t already, please share with your colleagues and friends.

John Ryan
CEO, Penington Institute