UTEP grant targets opioid abuse in rural Texas counties

Thenral Mangadu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of public health sciences at The University of Texas at El Paso, has received federal funding to collaborate with a consortium of community partners on a plan for opioid use disorder (OUD) response in rural communities along the Texas-Mexico border.

The award is part of a $200,000 grant that Aliviane Inc. received from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program to establish a multi-sector consortium focused on developing strategies for preventing and treating substance use disorder, including opioid use disorder, in rural communities.

The consortium will include Aliviane, UTEP’s Minority AIDS Research Center, the Texas Department of State Health Services Office of Border Public Health, and the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence.

Over the course of one year, the consortium will lead the efforts to conduct a regional needs assessment in Texas Health Service Region 10, which includes Hudspeth, Culberson, Presidio, Brewster and Jeff Davies counties.

The consortium will develop workforce, service delivery, and sustainability plans that focus on prevention, treatment and recovery.

According to Aliviane, a nonprofit drug treatment center, these five counties are at high risk for substance use and opioid use disorder given the U.S.-Mexico border contexts, which include low socioeconomic status, lack of access to care, transportation barriers, immigration policy-related barriers, proximity to violence, access to drugs, health professional shortages, and low health literacy.

In May 2019, HRSA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded $24 million to rural organizations across 40 states to combat the opioid crisis in the U.S.