Political leadership is needed to tackle the growing toll of overdose deaths, according to a new report.
The column this week also brings wide-ranging news on COVID, a public health leader’s calls for tax reform, and links readers into the new National Eating Disorders Strategy, as well as a new report on Voluntary Assisted Dying.
And spot the wardrobe fail.
Scroll to the end for news of upcoming events, job opportunities and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic is by no means the only epidemic for which the global response has been profoundly shaped by the interests of commercial producers and the purchasing power of the richest nations.”
The number of Australians who die from drug overdose each year continues its long-term rise, with 37,000 drug-induced deaths since 2001, according to Australia’s Annual Overdose Report, produced by the Penington Institute.
In 2021, 2,231 drug-induced deaths were reported in Australia, with an average of 32 years of life lost per death. Of these deaths, 1,675 were unintentional.
Unintentional overdose death has far outpaced our population growth over the past two decades. Patterns continue to evolve: stimulants and benzodiazepines are increasingly involved in fatal overdose. Of particular concern, overdose deaths in Australia that involve dangerous synthetic opioids like fentanyl have been increasing.
The Institute started producing Australia’s Annual Overdose Report eight years ago to make sure the people who had overdosed were counted (in every sense of the word), and that their lost lives would motivate Australia to do better to prevent unnecessary deaths into the future.
“Despite some positive developments, the response has been wholly inadequate compared to the scale of the problem. Repeated calls for a comprehensive evidence-based response to this crisis barely register in our policies and discourse about drugs,” said Institute CEO John Ryan.
“It is not too late to design and deliver an effective and coordinated response to address the overdose crisis we face. Let’s remember that we have both the means and the methods. What we need now is the political leadership that can take us towards the development of a comprehensive National Overdose Prevention Strategy to reduce and prevent overdose deaths.”
Read the open letter, which was submitted to the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention on 24 August 2023.Fewer than 20 countries worldwide still report COVID-19 hospitalisation and ICU data to the World Health Organization (WHO), leaving the UN health body blind to the impact and evolution of the virus in most of the world.
See the WHO Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines.
Read this study, ‘Assessment of Hospital-Onset SARS-CoV-2 Infection Rates and Testing Practices in the US, 2020-2022’, concluding: ” Ongoing and enhanced surveillance and prevention efforts to reduce in-hospital transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infections are needed, particularly when community incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections is high. COVID-19 boosts risks of health problems 2 years later, giant study of veterans says From private incentives to public health need: rethinking research and development for pandemic preparedness:
“The COVID-19 pandemic is by no means the only epidemic for which the global response has been profoundly shaped by the interests of commercial producers and the purchasing power of the richest nations.”
ReadThe National Eating Disorders Strategy 2023-2033. It is described as “a tool to help people at all levels and in all settings to work in a coordinated and sustained way to transform a fragmented system with some excellent elements into a full and coordinated system of care for all.” See more about the consultation on a consumer engagement strategy