Philadelphia has the highest opioid death rate of any major metropolitan U.S. city with more than 1,200 fatal overdoses in 2017.
On Tuesday (Jan. 23), officials made a stride to aid in the epidemic by giving their approval for safe injections sites where people battling addiction can go to inject drugs under medical supervision.
“The people in the city of Philadelphia, our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our children, are dying. And they don’t need to die. And we have an obligation to do everything we can to prevent those people from dying,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley during a press conference.
The city will not be funding the venture and is asking for private organizations to help out and donate to the cause. If successful, this will make the city of brotherly love the first U.S. city to implement this type of initiative.
The city is referring to the centers as “Comprehensive User Engagement Sites” and have been studying their effectiveness in cities such as Vancouver, Canada for the better part of a year.
The data shows that a single site could potentially save 25 to 75 lives a year in addition to millions of dollars in hospital costs and public funds. This would also reduce the public injection of drugs and other neighborhood problems.
The city’s Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis understands that implementing the sites are not the sole solution; but, remains hopeful.
“We are not naive,” said DiBerardinis. “Nothing you hear today is the solution, but small parts of a larger effort.”