Kentucky to Receive $1.08 Million to Address Prescription Drug Overdose
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 7, 2014) – The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), housed in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, is one of just five awardees in the nation to receive a $1.08 million “Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Boost” grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). KIPRC is a unique partnership between the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health and the Kentucky State Department for Public Health.
“Prescription drug overdose is a national epidemic and Kentucky is on the front line,” proclaimed CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, during a visit to Eastern Kentucky Tuesday night. “CDC is committed to working with community partners, state health programs, and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-5th) to address health disparities and improve the lives of Americans.”
The award, provided over a three-year period, targets states “poised to make immediate progress reducing prescription drug overdose” through activities such as leveraging Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, and conducting policy evaluation to understand what works.
"Kentucky has been a national leader in several aspects of prescription drug overdose prevention," said Dr. Terry Bunn, director of KIPRC. "This critical funding gives us the opportunity to highlight, evaluate, and build upon Kentucky’s previous efforts and groundwork in preventing prescription drug overdoses."
Kentucky had the third highest mortality rate of prescription drug overdoses in 2010 (23.6 per 100,000), with the number of all drug overdose deaths more than quadrupling since 1999 (4.9 per 100,000), according to a 2013 report by Trust For America’s Health. Nationally the rate has doubled.
“Hal Rogers has been calling attention to – and leading the fight against – this terrible epidemic,” Dr. Frieden said. “I’m honored to be with him to advance these important programs to stop the epidemic.”
The announcement came during a dinner held at the Ramada Paintsville Hotel and Conference Center, the third “Health Impact Series” event with the CDC as part of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative.
Dr. Frieden and Congressman Rogers have worked together through Operation UNITE’s National Rx Drug Abuse Summit to combat this public health epidemic, and have teamed up once again for the SOAR Health Impact Series.
SOAR, launched by Congressman Rogers and Governor Steve Beshear in the fall of 2013, seeks to expand job creation; enhance regional opportunity, innovation and identity; and improve the quality of life for Appalachian Kentucky.
According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, this region has a greater prevalence for heart disease (84% higher), diabetes (47% higher) and obesity (26% higher) than the nation’s average. The state’s lung cancer mortality rates are the nation’s highest, at 67% above average.
“Many of Eastern Kentucky’s biggest health challenges could be improved – if not altogether reversed – with a little prevention,” said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “Unhealthy habits, like smoking, are one of the main health concerns facing the people of this region. Many of the associated health concerns could be prevented through healthier choices.”
Tuesday’s dinner was sponsored by Highlands Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph-Martin, Paul B. Hall Medical Center, and Operation UNITE
“We cannot shape the future of this region without focusing on ways to improve the quality of life we have,” Rogers stated. “If you’ve ever battled cancer or watched someone close to you go down that difficult road, quality of life is basically non-existent.”
Bunn emphasizes the need for interdisciplinary, multidimensional responses to the complex problems of prescription drug abuse and overdose.
"It is only through this type of collaboration--between local, state, and federal government; health care providers; policy makers; law enforcement; and researchers--that we can understand and address this devastating yet preventable problem," she said.
Through a series of 15 listening sessions this summer, the SOAR Health Work Group “collected lots of innovative strategies for improving health in our region, including many projects that involve re-discovering the healthy benefits of growing our own gardens and cooking together with our families,” said Dr. Nikki Stone, associate professor of the UK College of Dentistry/Medicine and chair of the SOAR Health Work Group.
Common themes in the health discussions included wellness, healthy foods, the smoke-free initiative, a focus on children and coordinated school health, oral health, diabetes/obesity, seniors, the need for mental health assessments and services beginning in early childhood, and the drug epidemic.
“We aren’t the type of people who stand by expecting someone else to save us – the people of southern and eastern Kentucky like to pull up our bootstraps and hit the trenches,” Rogers said, cautioning that there is no quick fix.
“This is a marathon – in fact, this is the race of our lives,” Rogers continued. “We may not even get to see the fruits of our efforts. But, if we endure, our children and grandchildren will live healthier and better than we are living now.”
For more information about SOAR visit their website at http://www.soar-ky.org/
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