In collaboration with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Open Society Foundations, the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University today urged the Biden-Harris transition team to advance public health policy recommendations detailed in a new report, titled From the War on Drugs to Harm Reduction: Imagining A Just Overdose Crisis Response, to help address the opioid crisis equitably and amend harsh criminal justice practices disproportionately imposed on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, when overall overdose-related deaths were beginning to decline, the number of overdose deaths among people of color continued to rise across the country,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, director of the FXB Center. “Under the new administration, we are confident our recommendations will go far in closing these inequitable gaps. As President-Elect Biden understands first-hand the experience of loving someone who lives with drug addiction, we know that his commitment to a just response is real, and that countless others affected by the ongoing crisis can feel hopeful toward achieving necessary reforms for real change.”
The report’s recommendations recognize and respond to structural health disparities, racially motivated drug policies, class inequalities and sustained disruption of social safety nets. Some of the recommendations include:
- Setting up a bulk purchasing fund to procure overdose reversal medication (naloxone) and Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT) at lower prices
- Expanding Medicaid to ensure access to quality health care
- Divesting from punitive and carceral approaches to address drug use and reform the criminal legal system
- Creating a national campaign to address stigma and misconceptions and allocate funds to form a non-profit foundation that coordinates a national-level response and serves as a non-governmental watchdog
To download the full report and related infographic, please click here.