Healthcare Policy and Economics HCA-320__BK8 - Module 1- Advocacy and Healthcare Policy
Population Health Advocacy
Healthcare Policy and Economics HCA-320
Healthcare Policy and Economics
Month Date, Year
Population Health Advocacy
In 2018, about 50,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses in the United States. The abuse and addiction to opioids such as prescribed pain relievers, heroin, and other synthetic opioids like fentanyl have become a major issue that negatively impacts the public health and the socioeconomic welfare of society (Vadivelu et al., 2018). The opioid crisis in the United States started in the 1990s with the reassurance offered to the medical community by the pharmaceutical companies that the patients would not be addicted to the opioids prescribed to them as pain relievers, resulting in a situation whereby opioids were prescribed in large numbers (Vadivelu et al., 2018). With the widespread prescription of opioids, the diversion and misuse of opioids were experienced, showing that opioids were highly addictive and would result in negative outcomes in society. Addiction to opioids became a public health crisis due to the addiction, misuse, and overdoses due to legal and illegal opioids use (Vadivelu et al., 2018). Neonatal abstinence syndrome was also experienced as a result of the abuse of opioids during pregnancy. The abuse of opioids using syringes has also contributed to an increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other dangerous diseases.
The Opioid Crisis as a Public Policy Issue
The current intervention measures set up to deal with the opioid crisis have been unsuccessful. Some of the measures put in place include improving the access services such as treatment and recovery. This way, it will be easier to handle the crisis since the intervention methods will be readily available (Vadivelu et al., 2018). The availability of drugs to reverse the effects of overdosing has also been undertaken to reduce the cases of overdosing, hence saving more lives. Public health surveillance has also been another priority, whereby the organizations involved with handling the opioid crisis research the issue so that more viable solutions can be developed (Vadivelu et al., 2018). At the same time, the government has been researching pain medications so that opioids are no longer used in pain management, hence reducing new cases of opioid addiction. Therefore, the government has been looking for less addictive, safe, and effective pain management measures that will lead to better outcomes in the medical management of chronic pain. Despite the current measures, the opioid crisis is still an issue, leading to the need for better intervention methods.
Why the Policy Matters
With the negative effects of the opioid crisis being heavily felt in society, there is a need for better policies that will effectively help in eliminating the issue. The first step in overcoming the challenge is providing better data so that better surveillance on the issue can be undertaken in society (Dasgupta et al., 2018). When better surveillance is undertaken, it will be easier to get correct figures on the opioid crisis, leading to a situation whereby positive outcomes can be achieved from the data collected. Secondly, better pain management needs to be looked into so that the use of opioids can be eliminated (Dasgupta et al., 2018). The continued use of opioids in pain management means that more people are likely to be addicted to opioids, hence increasing the impact of the crisis in society. There is, therefore, a need for better research and development efforts so that less addictive and more effective measures of pain management will be developed in the process.
Furthermore, the policy should also improve the access and availability of treatment, preventive, and recovery measures. The majority of the addicts cannot access the resources that will help them overcome addiction and offer moral support to help them stay away from opioids (Dasgupta et al., 2018). When this happens, it will be easier to prevent future cases of opioid addiction, manage the people who are currently addicted and help those who have overcome addiction not to get back to the vice. Furthermore, the policy will help in increasing the availability of overdose-reversing drugs. The reduced access to the overdose-reversing medication has resulted in a situation whereby more deaths have been experienced due to overdoses (Dasgupta et al., 2018). A policy whereby drugs that can reverse opioid overdoses will be readily available in society will help in reducing the number of overdoses experienced in society. Lastly, cutting-edge research has to be supported by the proposed policy so that better outcomes can be achieved in the process. Cutting-edge research will help get to the root cause of opioid addictions. Instead of treating the outcomes, the policy will help address the psychosocial issues that could lead to opioid addiction and the crisis being currently experienced (Dasgupta et al., 2018). When this happens, it will be possible to prevent the occurrence of opioid addiction that negatively impacts society.
The Role that I would Play as an Advocate
As an advocate involved with the policy, I would play the role of a community mobilizer. Community mobilization refers to how communities are engaged so that the issues being addressed can be discussed. Community mobilization also includes identifying priorities in the program, the resources available to undertake the project, the needs of the community, and the development of solutions so that positive outcomes can be achieved in the process (Fraser et al., 2018). Community mobilization involves representation, participation, good governance, and change while involving the community that has been affected. When this happens, the community will not resist executing the policy since they will have been involved in the whole process and because the solutions adopted will have come from them.
As a community mobilizer, I will have different responsibilities. First, I will play the role of identifying and accessing the worst-hit communities. Using reliable data will help achieve positive outcomes in the process of executing the policy since the worst-hit communities will be highlighted so that immediate intervention programs can be set up there for better outcomes (Fraser et al., 2018). Furthermore, it will be easier to determine the resource allocation process so that the areas where the opioid crisis will get more resources than the areas where the crisis is mildly felt. I will also be involved in selecting and training community mobilizers at the grassroots level (Fraser et al., 2018). Having mobilizers at the grassroots will help ensure that the policy will have accurate information and people who understand the communities in question better, hence improved chances of producing positive outcomes in the process.
Another role that I will play is setting up formal communication structures that information can flow. Communication structures will help determine the direction that communication will flow through and the people who will be involved in the process (Fraser et al., 2018). This being the case, it will be easier for the stakeholders involved in the program to access and distribute information that will lead to positive outcomes in addressing the opioid crisis. Finally, I will play the role of identifying and implementing the activities involved in community mobilization (Fraser et al., 2018). By understanding the communities to work on, I will look for the most appropriate and acceptable activities that will lead to positive outcomes in the endeavors undertaken to eliminate the opioid crisis in the long run.
Benefits of the Policy to Members of Society
First, society will benefit from improved productivity when the opioid crisis is eliminated from society. When the crisis is eliminated, more members of society will become more productive since they will be able to engage in profit-making activities. When this happens, society will experience exponential growth and development (Saloner et al., 2018). When the society is productive, it will be easier to achieve positive outcomes in other aspects such as social development and improvement of the quality of life for its members. Secondly, the policy will help in the improvement of health outcomes in the members of society. The opioid crisis has led to negative health outcomes either directly or indirectly (Saloner et al., 2018). When members of society are addicted to opioids, they are likely to have health complications that reduce their productivity and increase their dependence on government services. Therefore, when the opioid crisis is eliminated, it will be easier for members of society to experience positive health outcomes and high-quality lives.
The policy will also help in reducing both government and private expenditure. Unnecessary and preventable expenditures are incurred when members of society are addicted to opioids. The opioid crisis has resulted in a situation whereby the government has to spend excessively on the intervention and prevention measures for the people who have been affected by opioid addiction (Saloner et al., 2018). Furthermore, the people addicted to opioids spend excessively on them, thus meaning that some other more important issues will not be addressed. Through the policy, the opioid crisis will be eliminated, resulting in a situation whereby the funds that would have been used to either fuel or manage the addiction will be directed to more important areas of the society that are more beneficial (Saloner et al., 2018). Finally, society will become safer when the opioid crisis has been dealt with. Addiction to opioids makes the addicts more inclined to commit crimes. Therefore, when they are not addicted, they will be likelier to be law-abiding citizens who will not harm others to fuel their addictions.
The Stakeholders to be Involved
First, the policymakers will be involved. The policymakers are involved in the development of the policies that will be executed. Therefore, policymakers are involved in researching the opioid crisis to determine the extent of its spread and the number of people affected. They are also involved in developing policies that will help in the interventions against the opioid crisis, leading to improved outcomes for society (Bhatt & Arespacochaga, 2017). The addicts who the opioid crisis has negatively impacted are another category of stakeholders. The addicts have been affected by the opioid crisis through addiction to either legal or illegal opioids (Bhatt & Arespacochaga, 2017). When one is an addict, their life is negatively affected. The whole intervention program will be centered on them and the achievement of positive outcomes in the endeavors undertaken.
Health professionals will also be involved in the policy. Health professionals are involved in helping the addicts to overcome their situations and lead healthy lives in the long run. The healthcare professionals will be drawn from different areas of the profession to contribute their expertise in managing the situation and providing positive outcomes in the policies being undertaken (Bhatt & Arespacochaga, 2017). They will also be used in research about the subject matter to achieve positive outcomes in the process. Government agencies will also be stakeholders in the program. The government will be involved in different capacities in the project. For example, the government will be involved in financing the programs so that the resources required will be readily available to the stakeholders involved in eliminating the crisis (Bhatt & Arespacochaga, 2017). Furthermore, the government will also be a stakeholder in creating policies that will facilitate the elimination of the opioid crisis, such as proposing laws that will lead to research and development of more effective pain management medications that are less addictive. Also, the government will be involved in developing different approaches whereby instead of punishment, the addicts will be rehabilitated.
Bhatt, J., Arespacochaga, E. (2017). Addressing the prescription opioid crisis: Advancing provider education and collaborating with all stakeholders. NEJM Catalyst, Article 3(6). https://catalyst.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/CAT.17.0346
Dasgupta, N., Beletsky, L., & Ciccarone, D. (2018). Opioid crisis: no easy fix to its social and economic determinants. American journal of public health, Article 108(2), 182-186. https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304187
Fraser, S., Hordyk, R., Etok, N., & Weetaltuk, C. (2019). Exploring community mobilization in northern Quebec: motivators, challenges, and resilience in action. American journal of community psychology, Article 64(1-2), 159-171. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajcp.12384
Saloner, B., McGinty, E., Beletsky, L., Bluthenthal, R., Beyrer, C., Botticelli, M., Sherman, S. (2018). A public health strategy for the opioid crisis. Public Health Reports, Article 133(1_suppl), 24S-34S. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0033354918793627
Vadivelu, N., Kai, A., Kodumudi, V., Sramcik, J., Kaye, A. (2018). The opioid crisis: a comprehensive overview. Current pain and headache reports, Article 22(3), 1-6. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11916-018-0670-z