Delegate Name: Noah Breukink
Committee: UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
Topic: Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis is a global issue that has been declared a public health emergency in many countries, including the United States and Canada. Australia has also experienced a surge in opioid-related deaths, and the government has taken a proactive stance to address the issue.
In 2018, there were 1,123 opioid-related deaths in Australia, an increase of 41% from 2017. The majority of these deaths were due to prescription opioids, with fentanyl-related deaths also increasing. This trend is a cause for concern and has prompted the government to take action.
The Australian government has taken a multi-faceted approach to address the opioid crisis. The first step is to reduce the supply of prescription opioids. The government has implemented a real-time prescription monitoring system that tracks the prescribing and dispensing of opioids. This system helps identify and prevent doctor shopping, where patients obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors, and ensures that opioids are prescribed only when necessary.
The government has also introduced measures to increase public awareness of the dangers of opioids. The Department of Health has developed a national awareness campaign called ‘The Nerve’, which aims to educate the public on the risks of opioid use and encourage them to seek alternative pain management options. Another important aspect of Australia’s approach to the opioid crisis is the provision of treatment services for those struggling with addiction. The government has invested $1.5 billion in addiction treatment services over the next four years. This funding will be used to expand treatment options, including medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and rehabilitation.
Australia has also introduced harm reduction strategies to reduce the risk of overdose. Naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, is now available over the counter in some states. The government is also working to increase access to needle and syringe programs and safe injecting facilities to reduce the spread of blood-borne viruses and other health complications associated with injecting drug use.
In addition, the government has established a National Advisory Council on Opioids to provide expert advice and guidance on policy development and implementation. The council is made up of experts in the fields of addiction medicine, public health, and law enforcement, and is responsible for monitoring the impact of government policies and making recommendations for further action. Overall, Australia’s approach to the opioid crisis is comprehensive and evidence-based. By reducing the supply of prescription opioids, increasing public awareness, expanding treatment services, and introducing harm-reduction strategies, the government is taking a proactive stance to address this public health emergency. However, it will take ongoing effort and collaboration between the government, healthcare providers, and the community to effectively address this complex issue.