On May 2, Holly Joshi and Eleana Binder from the Center for Social Justice and Amber Sheldon from the Harm Reduction team went to Sacramento along with UCSF doctors and residents to advocate for continued and expanded funding to prevent overdoses, increase access to drug treatment options, and interrupt the spread of STI and viral hepatitis.
The team met with the health policy consultants for the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees, as well as the policy consultant for Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, to advocate for $61 million (over the next four years) for statewide overdose prevention and harm reduction programs including staff costs, delivery of naloxone (Narcan), fentanyl test strips, overdose prevention, and drug treatment provision and navigation and $15 million (over three years) to strengthen the capacity to prevent, test, and treat for hepatitis C in marginalized communities.
Together, GLIDE and UCSF made the powerful case for investments in harm reduction programs. UCSF doctors discussed their experiences working with patients who have overdosed and experienced delays in receiving naloxone. Many of these patients arrive to hospitals with critical health issues, that require expensive, long-term medical care. These health crisis can be avoided. Implementation of best practices harm reduction programs that put resources and tools in the hands of community-based organizations and peer-led interveners have shown to be successful at reversing overdoses and saving lives.
These budget proposals were developed by the End the Epidemics Coalition, of which GLIDE is a member. Advocates from across the state will gather for a Day of Action in Sacramento on May 15 to urge the Legislature to include these requests in the final budget. The Legislature must pass a balanced budget by June 15, and a final budget should be announced by June 30.
GLIDE has been and will continue to be on the frontlines advocating for community health, safety, and equity. Stay tuned!