Officials from six counties, including Philadelphia, met Monday at Temple University's School of Medicine to exchange information and to foster collaboration in addressing the region's heroin and opioid epidemic.
The meeting centered on coordinating efforts and to the support of task forces whose work addresses the challenges of drug addiction. Those in attendance included officials from Chester, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Camden counties as well as Philadelphia.
Organized and moderated by Philadelphia Councilperson-at-Large David Oh, the group agreed to communicate about each county's efforts via emails and video calls.
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"This regional meeting is an effort to see if we could do a better job by combining our information, assets and sharing them with each other," Oh said.
He explained that the idea of bringing county officials together to deal with the crisis is based on the fact that the opioid epidemic encompasses much more than just the City of Philadelphia — where resources to combat the epidemic are limited and overburdened.
"First of all, they showed up and they are willing to continue. If they were not interested, they probably would not be here. I think it’s very positive and we can begin to move forward. But we have to be careful not to duplicate or waste time and make this efficient, " Oh added of the collaboration.
The discussions centered around addressing the lack of services for the drug addicted, the needs of relatives of drug users, medical insurance and how to disburse funding. Officials lamented that they get more state and federal funding to address the Zika virus than combat the heroin and opioid crisis, so they are looking for ways to best spend constituent's money.
"These regional meetings are one more effort to do our job better by combining information and access," Oh added.