Matteson, IL – Today, Congresswoman Robin Kelly, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and her staff completed training to administer naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug.
“Too many of our neighbors have already been lost to addiction; it’s clear that naloxone saves lives when it’s available in our communities and people are properly trained,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly. “This training — as important as CPR training — took less than an hour so you could learn it on your lunch break. I would strongly encourage anyone and everyone to consider completing this important and lifesaving training, which is often offered free-of-charge by local public health departments and health advocacy organizations.”
The training was conducted by Lindsay Wilson, Health Promotions Coordinator with the Kankakee County Health Department.
“I hope that by completing this training, I can increase awareness about naloxone, especially in rural and African American communities, where prescribing and dispensing rates are lower,” added Congresswoman Kelly.
According to the CDC, at least 26,500 opioid overdoses were reversed in the U.S. by laypersons using naloxone from 1996-2014. With greater awareness about the opioid epidemic and naloxone, the number of lives saved has certainly grown in recent years. However, there are still challenges to accessing naloxone in many communities. The CDC found that rural counties were three times more likely to be considered a ‘low-dispensing’ county when compared to urban counties.
“While the opioid epidemic has impacted all communities, much of the media attention and Congressional action has been forced on the epidemic’s impact in white, rural communities. This attention has been key to driving calls for reform, change and resources. However, we cannot ignore the many other communities being impacted by this epidemic. Opioid abuse has been a challenge in African American and urban communities for decades. I hope that by personally completing this lifesaving training, as the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Chair, that I can bring greater attention to this crisis and its underreported impact in African American communities.”
In the 115th Congress, Congresswoman Kelly was a co-sponsor of the Opioid Minority Health Report to Congress Act, which required an annual opioid epidemic impact report from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities. The data from such a report would assist Congress in further targeting programs and resources to the most struggling communities. The legislation was originally offered by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-09).
In addition to her role as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, Congresswoman Robin Kelly is also a member of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and the Committee on Oversight and Reform (COR), which has been examining the causes and responses to the opioid epidemic. She is an original co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency Act (H.R. 2596), authored by COR Chairman Cummings, and the Respond NOW Act (H.R. 2922), authored by Congresswoman Anne Kuster (NH-01).
This article originally appeared in the Chicago Defender.