The heroin epidemic in the United States is raging. According to the Center for Disease Control, heroin use has increased across nearly every demographic. As heroin use becomes more prominent, so have heroin-related overdoses and deaths. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of deaths caused by heroin overdose almost quadrupled. States and municipal authorities around the country are struggling to deal with this epidemic.
The city of Seattle has come up with an innovative but highly controversial approach to dealing with deaths related to the epidemic. The city has become one of the first places in the United States, to build safe injection facilities for heroin users. In a safe injection facility, drugs can be used under the supervision of trained staff. The goals are to reduce risk of disease transmission through unhygienic injecting and prevent drug-related overdose death. The facility also connects drug users with addiction treatment and other health services.
Safe injection facilities have proven to be effective in other parts of the world. Studies conducted on these facilities have found an overall positive impact. The use of safe-injection facilities is shown to have reduced the risk of HIV transmission and overdose death. It has helped to decrease public drug use and has led to the increase enrollment in drug treatment programs. In Switzerland and Spain, some safe-injection facilities have even had to close due to reduction in heroin use and decline in the need for such services. Yet despite research showing clear public health benefits, many people remain highly skeptical of the initiative.
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Photo: University of Georgia
According to the Pew Research Center, black children are almost four times as likely to live in poverty as white or Asian children. Poverty in black children is not only linked to poor academic performance, but lifelong emotional and behavioral problems. To mitigate poverty’s effects, the University of Georgia created a program called the Strong African American Families Program. They’ve found that good parenting practices are able to mitigate the effects of poverty. The program offers families a seven-week interactive educational workshop to help parents develop structured family environments, supportive relationships and teaches them effective ways to discipline and guide their children. (via The Development Set)
Due to poverty, corruption and repeated natural disasters, healthcare infrastructure in Haiti is virtually non-existent. But many development agencies are reluctant to invest in long-term infrastructure improvement and capacity building projects in the developing world because such projects don’t produce immediate and tangible outcomes. However, an international nonprofit called Build Health International (BHI) is trying to change that by focusing on building healthcare capacity and infrastructure in Haiti. BHI is building hospitals that are able to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes and is also involved in repairing community water supplies and installing a large-scale solar power system. The hope is that capacity building and infrastructure improvements will help Haiti become more resilient against systemic issues and natural disasters. (via Humanosphere)