NGA Health to Assist 5 States on Addressing Infectious Diseases Related to Substance Use

The National Governors Association Health Division (NGA Health) will be working with five states — Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Nevada and Tennessee — on a learning lab highlighting best practices around addressing the spread of infectious diseases related to substance use. The learning lab will feature New Mexico’s comprehensive harm reduction strategies and efforts to expand access to screening and treatment for hepatitis C through Project ECHO and other collaborations. 

Hepatitis C infections have been on the rise since 2010, with reported cases of hepatitis C increasing 350 percent between 2010 and 2016. This large increase has mostly been driven by injection drug use, and the largest increases have been seen among younger populations in non-urban areas. New Mexico has been a leader in providing integrated harm reduction services since the late 1990s, especially to rural and underserved areas. The ECHO model in New Mexico has also ensured access to hepatitis C treatment for the Medicaid population since it has allowed primary care providers in clinics and prisons to have training and to manage hepatitis C without referrals to specialists. Through this learning lab, participating states will develop a strategic action plan incorporating best practices from New Mexico’s harm reduction efforts.

Previously, NGA Health conducted another learning lab highlighting Kentucky, where harm reduction programs and syringe services have been approved in 60 of the 120 counties. To learn more about the outcomes from this learning lab click here.