Lehigh Valley

Local health officials optimistic after Trump declares war on opioid addiction

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - President Donald Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency Thursday, an announcement local health officials say they were pleased to hear.

"Really happy and glad this topic is being discussed at dinner tables tonight," said Arlene Lund, Executive Director of the Center for Humanistic Change in Allentown.

Lund sees the effects of the opioid crisis everyday and says it's an epidemic that doesn't discriminate.

"It can cross all walks of life," said Lund.

Lund says the president's decision to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency is a small victory in the ongoing war on drug addiction and hopes it will raise awareness and funds to help curb the crisis.

Some criticized Trump's decision to issue a public health emergency rather than a national disaster which would have allowed the federal government to immediately tap into FEMA funds to combat opioids.

But Lund says there are pros and cons to both and she's just happy to see some action.

"We would hope that there will be an increase in federal dollars that will go toward prevention education and intervention."

Lund says the declaration will also help people in some of the rural areas of Lehigh and Northampton Counties get a hold of resources.

"There will be a greater amount of access to tele-medication in order to help get the help to those families that maybe can't come into the valley."

Lund says while the tangible benefits like grant money and resources are key to fighting this epidemic, raising awareness and opening the conversation can have just as powerful an impact.

"People need to be educated," said Lund.

President Trump says he will work with Congress to increase federal money for the Public Health Emergency fund.

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