Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that USDA is investing in 18 projects in 16 states to use communications technology to expand access to health care, substance misuse treatment and advanced educational opportunities.
“These investments will help provide better health care and educational opportunities for rural residents,” Vilsack said in a USDA release. “Hospitals, schools and training centers across the country are successfully using telecommunications to deliver quality educational and medical services. Telemedicine, for example, can help treat patients who are struggling with opioid and other substance use disorders that disproportionately affect rural areas by allowing rural hospitals to connect with resources in other health care facilities across the country to better diagnose and treat individuals.”
In January, President Obama tapped Secretary Vilsack to lead an interagency effort focused on the rural opioid epidemic.
Recent efforts have helped identify effective tools to reduce drug use and overdose, including evidence-based prevention programs, prescription drug monitoring, medication-assisted treatment and the overdose reversal drug naloxone. On Aug. 31, Vilsack announced an initiative to provide transitional housing for rural Americans in recovery from substance use disorders.
USDA is awarding $4.7 million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to support 11 distance learning and seven telemedicine projects. These will join the 80 DLT projects USDA announced in July.