A winning idea has earned Paterson $1 million in funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies through the nonprofit’s Global Mayors Challenge, which will award 15 cities worldwide for pandemic-era innovation.
Mayors from 631 cities in 99 countries entered the competition by submitting innovative ideas to better their communities; awards were announced Jan. 18.
Paterson is one of only three cities in the United States to win. The city’s innovation will make medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction available anytime, anywhere in 90 minutes.
Also known as RealFix, the program was awarded $1 million in addition to technical support and coaching over the next three years. It aims to make opioid addiction treatment Suboxone more readily available to those with addiction by connecting people to teledoctors who can prescribe them the medication via hotline. Callers will receive the medication in the mail and then be connected with counselors to further their addiction treatment.
“Paterson is committed to becoming a city of solutions and this award not only proves it but it will also help us save lives,” said Mayor Andre Sayegh. “We are hopeful that our innovative idea will serve as a global model for other cities who are also addressing the opioid epidemic.”
In its announcement on the program, Paterson noted that opioid addiction doesn’t just impact the sufferer. Addicted folks will do almost anything to “score their fix,” including committing robbery, prostitution and dealing drugs, the announcement said. RealFix provides a a true alternative.
“Overdose deaths reached record numbers during the global pandemic. That’s why it’s so important to support the City of Paterson to implement RealFix – a cutting-edge innovation with lessons for cities around the world working to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Michael Odermatt, mayors challenge program manager for Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We’re proud to see this project advance.”
“As the world works to address the profound public health and economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, cities can implement innovative ideas at a pace that national governments simply can’t match,” said Michael Bloomberg – founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP, and 108th Mayor of New York City – in a prepared statement. “Our 15 winners offer bold, achievable plans to improve health, reduce unemployment, empower women, and more. Collectively, they have the potential to improve millions of their residents’ lives – and the most successful solutions will inspire cities around the world to embrace them.”
The other 14 winning ideas address one or more of four current issue areas in cities: economic recovery and inclusive growth; health and wellbeing; climate and environment; and gender and equality.