The sheer scope of the opioid crisis—as well as the geographic and demographic changes in the kinds of people affected—propelled a landmark policy shift toward treating addiction as an illness rather than a crime. 2016 may also be remembered as the year that Zika landed in the U.S. and Congress failed to deliver funding to fight the virus until September.
The 2016 Year in Review: Public health
The CDC called on doctors to prescribe opioid pain relievers only as a last resort and in limited dosage. President Barack Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, the first major legislation in 30 years targeting substance abuse. The law emphasizes prevention and treatment over criminal enforcement. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act was adopted as part of the sweeping 21st Century Cures legislation. It authorizes $1 billion in funding to fight the opioid crisis, although Congress still has to appropriate the money.
Days after a gunman killed 49 people in an Orlando, Fla., nightclub, the American Medical Association called on Congress to lift the long-standing ban on gun violence research.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its first-ever travel advisory for part of the contiguous U.S., warning Americans to stay away from a Miami neighborhood where officials observed active transmissions of the Zika virus. In September, Congress OK'd $1.1 billion to combat the spread of the virus.
The U.N. General Assembly convened to discuss the rising prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant infections. It was only the fourth time in the body's history that it met regarding a health crisis.
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