New York City will Install Ten Vending Machines

To combat the opioid crisis, New York City will install ten vending machines that will administer Naloxone and clean needles.

To assist drug users who are “disproportionately burdened” by overdoses, New York City health officials are initiating a pilot program for public health vending machines (PHVM).

In December, the non-profit Fund for Public Health in New York issued a request for proposals to install 10 PHVMs in communities across the city that administer the anti-overdose medicine naloxone, sterile syringes, and other harm reduction and wellness products to drug users.

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According to a research by the National Center for Health Statistics and preliminary statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1 million people have died in the United States from lethal overdoses since 1999.

According to data from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2,062 persons died in New York City from unintentional overdoses in 2020, the highest rate since reporting began in 2000. The survey revealed that in 2020, black and Latino individuals in communities with the highest rates of poverty, such as the South Bronx and East Harlem, reported the most overdose deaths.

The Fund for Public Health in New York’s request for proposals stated, “Racial equity does not mean simply treating everyone equally, but rather allocating resources and services in such a way that explicitly addresses barriers imposed by structural racism (i.e. policies and institutional practices that perpetuate racial inequity) and White privilege.”

The plan will cost taxpayers $730,000, which will go toward helping opioid overdose prevention programs construct the ten vending machines. The request for ideas mentions the South Bronx, East Harlem, Union Square, and Brooklyn’s East New York as prospective locations for the devices.

With successful pilots in Europe, Canada, and Australia, PHVM initiatives have emerged as an emerging way to tackle high-barrier access to health and wellness goods. New York hopes to model its program after programs in place in other US cities such as Las Vegas, Nevada, and Cincinnati, Ohio.

New York became the first city in the United States to allow supervised consumption facilities for illegal narcotics in November.

“Unfortunately, the overdose issue is escalating,” said Dr. Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to NPR in November. “This is something about which we have a strong conviction and a sense of urgency.”

These kinds of programs, according to Kassandra Frederique, president of the Drug Policy Alliance, might be a “game changer.”

Opioid overdose prevention measures in New York are still divisive among policymakers and communities.

Overdose prevention approaches have also received support from Mayor Eric Adams and former Mayor Bill de Blasio. According to the New York Times, four of the city’s five district attorneys have expressed support for safe injection sites.

“If they pledge to place them in Central Park, Fifth Avenue, and Park Avenue — right where the wealthiest people stay,” NYC Black Lives Matter leader Hawk Newsome told the New York Post, “I’d be supporting these vending machines.” “Why should our children be forced to pass past individuals gathered around these machines and nowhere else?”

Meanwhile, according to NPR, some local residents and law enforcement authorities in other US cities where these programs operate have faced legal challenges and expressed fears that these programs could encourage drug usage and violence.

“We should be looking for methods to get these folks into a rehabilitation program so they can overcome their addiction and save their lives,” Staten Island City Councilman David Carr told the New York Post, calling the PHVM program “absurd.”

Proposals for the PHVM program must be submitted by January 20, and funding will be announced on January 31.

Researcher at Jubilee Ace Mchnery under Team Head Bobby
Researcher at Jubilee Ace Mchnery under Team Head Bobby