Preventing Our Way Out of the Opioid Epidemic: The Editor’s Podcast with Guest Dr. Michael Fraser

by Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH

The Editor’s Podcast with Dr. Lloyd F. Novick appears with each new issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and offers a closer look at the articles published in the latest issues with guest appearances by authors, guest editors, and others.

In this episode of the Editor’s Podcast, Dr. Novick speaks with Dr. Michael Fraser, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASHTO), about articles published in the May/June 2020 issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. This issue focuses on the opioid epidemic.

Both opioid overdose and suicide are serious and preventable public health issues. They share several risk and protective factors and are closely interrelated. Individuals who experience a non-fatal opioid overdose face a significantly greater risk of later dying by suicide. Drs. Novick and Fraser discus what state health officials can do to mitigate the effects of these “diseases of despair” in their communities. They also discuss what policymakers can do to build on the ACA-mandated CHNA requirement to further strengthen the link between hospitals’ CHNA and implementation strategy and ensure that the activities that nonprofit hospitals engage in complement those of other community stakeholders. Their discussion also addresses the impact of syringe exchange programs on population health. Currently, states have selected differing legislative routes implementing pathways to ensure access to clean needles and syringes. In “Needling Policy Makers and Sharpening the Debate: Do Syringe Exchange Programs Improve Health at the Population Level?” authors Ian Motie, Henry Carretta, and Leslie Beitsch illustrate the promise that syringe exchange programs may have on disease incidence for hepatitis B and hepatitis C. This information can help to inform decision makers in states lacking SEPs to reconsider current policies. Other topics include the importance of metrics and opioids dashboards in showing us how we’re doing with clinical and patient behavior in regard to opioid overdose and prescribing and allowing us to compare our efforts. Finally, they talk about a pilot public awareness campaign that delivered opioid overdose prevention through nightlife venues in New York City and the potential impacts that these types of drug education messages may have on prevention. 

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Michael Fraser, PhD, CAE, is chief executive officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, DC. Dr. Fraser has been advancing ASTHO’s mission as an advocate, voice, and resource for state and territorial public health since August 2016. Prior to joining ASTHO, he served many leadership positions including executive vice president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, CEO of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, and deputy executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. He also served in several capacities at the US Department of Health and Human Services. [Full bio.]


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Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Public Health at the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University. Previously, he was chair of this Department. He has served as the Commissioner of Health and Secretary for Human Services of Vermont, Director of Health Services for Arizona, and Director of the Office of Public Health for New York State. Previous academic positions include Professor and Director of the Preventive Medicine Program for SUNY Upstate Medical University, Professor and Chair of Epidemiology at the University of Albany School of Public Health, and Clinical Professor and Director of the Teaching Program in Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Vermont, College of Medicine. He is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Follow him on Twitter. [Full bio.]