Opioid declaration: Right-minded, but execution important

Gov. Tom Wolf has declared the state opioid addiction epidemic a public health emergency, a declaration similar to the designation given a natural disaster.

There’s nothing wrong with the 90-day disaster declaration, which automatically widens access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and makes it easier for medical professionals to get people into drug treatment more quickly.

It remains to be seen what the other practical applications are to the declaration by the governor.

Leaders of Project Bald Eagle, the local organization fighting the epidemic, believe the declaration may be beneficial regarding future funding for the organization.

And none of this is wrong.

Declarations are fine. And no one is going to turn down funding support for an organization that has been a leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

But it’s very important that there be a very practical element to whatever funding is used to fight this epidemic and that there is not a whole new bureaucracy hatched to fight a battle that already is being attacked by a network of professionals.

A lot of the efforts already undertaken are the correct ones, particularly a stricter approach for monitoring prescription drug dispensing, which is a leading cause of opioid addiction. Greater availability of the overdose antidote naloxone during emergency responses is already a matter of practice.

Greater awareness of the problem and broader education of youth in our schools also is already happening, at least in our region.

The declaration means the highest leadership in Pennsylvania is aware of the problem and aligned in spirit to help fight it. The execution of that declaration, with avoidance of duplicative efforts and unnecessary bureaucracy, is extremely important going forward.