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As Overdose Deaths Top 100,000 a Year, Harm Reduction Services Need Sustainable Funding To Grow To Meet Need

New Toolkit Offers Roadmap to Healthcare Financing for Syringe Services, Overdose Prevention Services

December 6, 2021 (New York, NY) – A grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from overdose has brought new urgency to the need for well-funded harm reduction services like syringe access and naloxone availability to every community. While most of these services are resourced through foundation and state grant block funding, healthcare financing can provide a sustainable way for these programs to grow to meet the pressing needs of their communities. To guide harm reduction providers in navigating the sometimes burdensome and technical requirements to access healthcare financing, The National Harm Reduction Coalition, Vital Strategies, In The Works, and Anka Consulting have partnered to produce a new toolkitHarm Reduction is Healthcare: Sustainable Financing for Harm Reduction Programs.

“The past two years have been painful in so many ways, but opened the eyes of many to longstanding racism, inequities and injustices within our government-funded systems. Patient-centered and culturally effective harm reduction organizations must take this time of turmoil to create financially sustainable relationships with healthcare and other systems that will lead to improved outcomes and help individuals thrive.” — Dr. Kimá Taylor of Anka Consulting 

“It’s really hard to see the forest when you’re in the trees of day-to-day direct service, but building relationships with healthcare entities for new funding can pay off long term. This toolkit is specifically designed for busy harm reduction leaders to get the big picture background in a self-paced e-course followed by a workbook that walks you through the process, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.” — Dr. Taeko Frost of In The Works  

The toolkit contains several components, including:  

  • Self-paced 90-minute e-course with racial equity assessment tools, information about healthcare funding streams, lessons learned from the field, and practical action steps. Students will receive a certificate of completion and valuable insights from harm reduction leaders.  
  • Accompanying workbook to support mapping out next steps, assessing organizational readiness, and planning meetings with healthcare entities.  
  • Educational handouts, including an overview and glossary of terms, for quick reference upon completion of the course. 

“This toolkit is designed to be digestible, practical, and adaptable. We want harm reduction programs to walk away with real tools that they can use to ensure that they can continue to do what they do best: serving people who use drugs. ” — Dana Kurzer-Yashin of National Harm Reduction Coalition 

“Harm reduction programs and services are crucial to helping people who use drugs and critical to reducing preventable overdose deaths. But far too often, they are under resourced and underfunded. This toolkit was created to help get these essential, frontline workers the resources they need to do their lifesaving work.” –  Tracy Pugh of Vital Strategies.  

Harm reduction programs and organizers can join a free companion panel event with toolkit contributors Dr. Kimá Taylor, MD MPH of Anka Consulting, Taeko Frost, DrPH, MPH of In The Works, and Tracy Pugh, MHS of Vital Strategies on Tuesday, December 7, from 4:30-5 pm EST. Register for the event here

About Vital Strategies 

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. In November 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a five-year, $120 million investment to help combat the overdose crisis in the hard-hit states of Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The initiative builds on work of the past three years in Michigan and Pennsylvania, launched in 2018 with $50 million and expands the work to promote improved federal policies. The partnership between Vital Strategies, Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University, CDC Foundation, and Global Health Advocacy Incubator is helping to strengthen and scale up evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to reduce overdose risks and save lives.  

About National Harm Reduction Coalition  

The National Harm Reduction Coalition is a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that promotes health and justice for people and communities affected by drug use. Learn more at  

About In The Works  

In The Works is a consulting group that offers training, organizational development, and management support for harm reduction programs and health departments. Learn more at 

Media Contacts  

Tony Newman; 646-335-5384

Dana; 347-804-2079