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Aetna Foundation Announces Latest Grant to Help Battle the Opioid Epidemic: Pennsylvania

March 26, 2018 | Community

The Aetna Foundation announced the next step in its funding initiative to fight the ongoing opioid epidemic with a $1 million grant to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The grant is part of a $6 million commitment by the Aetna Foundation to combat the epidemic in states hardest hit by the crisis by funding state and local projects with the potential to make a real difference in addressing opioid-related challenges.

In Pennsylvania, the funds will turbo-charge the state’s innovative opioid dashboard, a collaborative project between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh. The dashboard is a comprehensive tool that will:

  • Offer responders across the state new evidence to make key decisions to best change the trajectory of the opioid epidemic.

  • Serve as a cross-sector bridge from experts across academia, the public and private sectors, and government agencies to provide real-time contextualized data.

  • Better facilitate a collaborative response to the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania and save more lives.

The official announcement took place on Tuesday, March 27 at the Capitol Media Center in Harrisburg. The event will include Hal Paz, M.D., Aetna’s executive vice president and chief medical officer and member of the Aetna Foundation Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine, M.D. and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Deputy Secretary Ellen DiDomenico, and Donald Burke, M.D., dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

“Solving the opioid crisis will take a collaborative, cross-sector effort. This data dashboard will fuel the work being done in Pennsylvania by bridging the strengths of the private, public and academic sectors to save more lives,” said Dr. Paz. “At Aetna, we’re encouraged by the work of the state of Pennsylvania to build a dashboard that will help inform decision making that will not only serve as a vital tool for Pennsylvanians, but can be replicated in other states deeply impacted by this epidemic.”

For more information on the announcement, visit the Department of Health media site.

In the United States, more than 42,000 individuals die every year from overdoses. That’s 116 people per day. In Pennsylvania alone, opioids claimed more than 27 lives for every 100,000 individuals in 2017. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has declared a statewide emergency, a declaration that accelerates access to information, including allowing the Commonwealth to collect more data on overdoses, neonatal abstinence syndrome and opioid prescriptions.

The grants complement Aetna’s efforts to fight the opioid crisis through integrated pharmacy, behavioral health and medical programs.

The Pennsylvania grant follows the initial grant which benefitted the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition and its “Rural Opioid Overdose Prevention Project.”