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Philanthropic effort to fight opioid epidemic underway in Wisconsin

August 22, 2023 11:14 AM | Anonymous

Wisconsin Health News

A national philanthropic effort to fight the opioid crisis on Monday released more details on its work in Wisconsin.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies Overdose Prevention Initiative launched in 2018 in two states and expanded its work to five more, including Wisconsin, in 2021. To date, Bloomberg Philanthropies has put $170 million toward the overall initiative.

The initiative supports Vital Strategies, which is working in Wisconsin to help provide the anti-overdose reversal drug naloxone, fentanyl test strips and information resources. It's also supporting the Department of Health Services in how to best use funding and programming for overdose deaths. The effort also backs harm reduction services and awareness efforts in Black and Indigenous communities.

“Working together, we can avoid the loss of life from drug overdoses and help those with substance use disorder on the path to recovery,” DHS Secretary-designee Kirsten Johnson said in a statement.

On Monday, Vital Strategies said it is:

  • Teaming up with Milwaukee radio stations on an educational campaign on how the overdose crisis is disproportionately impacting Black communities and how to access naloxone and other resources through the City of Milwaukee Office of African American Affairs.
  • Providing technical assistance and funding to the Bad River Tribe's harm reduction supply delivery program and an initiative by NEXT Distro to expand access to harm reduction supplies in rural and Indigenous communities. 
  • Supporting a workgroup composed of leaders on Milwaukee’s north side in disseminating a report they wrote on the unmet harm reduction and treatment needs in the city’s Black communities. 
  • Partnering with Samad’s House, a Black-led organization that provides healthcare and supportive services to women in substance use disorder recovery, to support women with lived experience in distributing harm reduction supplies and providing information on treatment and referrals.
  • Supporting Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association’s Black Barbershop Program to provide naloxone, fentanyl test strips, education and treatment referrals through its existing healthcare services in Black barbershops in Dane County.  

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