The Delaware Division of Public Health was awarded a federal grant to reduce drug overdose deaths.
The agency was recently awarded a $5.8 million Overdose Data to Action grant from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The three-year grant is to support the state's approach to the opioid crisis, Delaware will receive the $5.8 million annually.
“Up and down our state, we have more work to do to reduce the heartbreaking toll that the opioid epidemic is taking on thousands of Delawareans and their families,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “This additional funding will help us identify trends and collaborate in ways that were not possible before. Put simply, this funding will help us save lives.”
"We're going to continue a lot of projects we started previously with the funding we receive from the centers for disease prevention and we are also going to do some new projects under the funding that we were just not able to do previously," said Kate Brookins, Director of the DPH Office of Health Crisis Response.
Brookins added the money will be used to implement a new awareness campaign to reduce the stigma associated with addiction.
"We have done some work to do a need to set up some kind of community perception on the opioid epidemic, and one of our largest largest feedback that we have got it from the community is that the addiction stigma is really, really high, and it is essentially preventing folks from seeking treatment," said Brookins.
In 2018, there were 400 overdose deaths across the state, an increase of 16 percent from the 2017 total of 345 deaths, according to the Division of Forensic Science. The CDC ranked Delaware as number six in the nation for per-capita overdose deaths in 2017. The state also is ranked first in the nation for the per-capita prescribing of both high-dose and long-acting opioid medications, according to the CDC.
“Federal, state and local partners must work together on this complex health crisis,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “This funding also will allow us to work with our community partners such as doctors and pharmacists who are on the front lines of the epidemic and play a vital role in reversing the alarming trends that we are seeing here in Delaware and elsewhere in the country.”