Mon, Sep 09, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Opioid crisis goes global as deaths surge in Australia

Canberra says it is now taking the problem seriously as calls go out to heed the warnings provided in the US

By Kristen Gelineau  /  AP, BLACK RIVER, Australia

Two states — Tasmania and Victoria — developed their own prescription tracking systems, but they only monitor opioid prescriptions within their respective states and neither is currently mandatory.

The development of a national system has been mired in bureaucratic delays. In 2017, the government committed A$16 million to creating one, and Hunt, the health minister, later said it would be ready by the end of last year. It has yet to be rolled out.

In an interview, Hunt blamed the delay on the states. The national framework is ready, he said, but the states must connect to it.

In March, New South Wales coroner Harriet Grahame warned that Australia’s opioid deaths could reach many thousands over the next five years.

“We appear to have few coordinated strategies to address this problem,” Grahame wrote in a report. “Lowering the rate of opioid overdose is clearly achievable, but it will require a government willing to listen to health experts and to act decisively on their advice.”

After Matthew died, and for years to come, David would suddenly awaken at 10pm — the same time that Matthew used to call from Afghanistan. Now, instead of his son’s voice, there is only silence.

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