Recent News

Note From The Commissioner: My New Role

Nearly four years ago, I was given the profound honor and privilege of serving as the Baltimore City Health Commissioner. Every day since then, under the leadership of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and then Mayor Catherine Pugh, I’ve served alongside the most dedicated public servants I’ve ever known, joined in a common mission to combat disparities and improve health and well-being in Baltimore. I have often said that I have my dream job. It has been a dream come true to work with all of you. Together, we have accomplished so much: we’ve saved nearly 3,000 lives from opioid overdose; reduced infant mortality to record lows; provided glasses for all children who need them; treated violence and racism as public health crises; and convened all sectors to improve community well-being.

Leana Wen

Statement from Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen:

BALTIMORE, MD (September 12, 2018) – Nearly four years ago, I was given the profound honor and privilege of serving as the Baltimore City Health Commissioner. Every day since then, I’ve served with the most dedicated public servants I’ve ever known, joined in a common mission to combat disparities and improve health and well-being in Baltimore. 

Leana Wen

Congress is on the verge of a bipartisan opioid package. But experts have big concerns. (Vox)

The Senate this week is expected to vote on a legislative package that will take an array of actions to curb the opioid epidemic, the deadliest drug overdose crisis in US history.

If you hear senators describe it, the legislation, dubbed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, is a big breakthrough that will boost access to addiction treatment and many other interventions to mitigate the opioid epidemic, from law enforcement efforts against illicit drugs to combating the overprescription of opioids. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who oversees the Senate health committee, noted that the legislation “represents the work of over 70 senators, five committees, and countless staff who have worked together to help put an end to the opioid epidemic ravaging virtually every American community.” 

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We must provide sustained funding proportional to the severity of the opioid epidemic (The Hill)

In her op-ed, Dr. Leana Wen explores three obstacles stopping the full realization of Baltimore's three-pillar strategy to combat the opioid epidemic, and preventing the end of it in Baltimore — and nationwide.

The opioid crisis is the deadliest epidemic in U.S. history. In 2017, nearly 50,000 individuals across the U.S. died from an overdose involving opioids. In my city of Baltimore, 761 people died. Those are mothers not coming home for dinner. Students not graduating from college. And grandparents missing birthdays. They are the human cost of overdose deaths. Yet, disturbingly, we have not reached the peak of this public health emergency. A new study tells an apocalyptic story — 510,000 dead in the U.S. from an opioid overdose in the next decade.

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The Home Base of Health (U.S. News & World Report)

Substandard housing conditions have been linked to higher rates of infectious disease, chronic illnesses and injuries, but millions of low-income Americans have little choice about where they live.

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Asthma

Breastfeeding: get over it (The Daily Campus)

There has been a long standing stigma surrounding the topic of breastfeeding in public. People, most often men, have found this to be too tantalizing, sexual and overall distracting for them to go about their daily lives. Breastfeeding is a natural occurrence. It is a mother feeding her baby breakfast, lunch or dinner. Most people wouldn’t respond well if they were approached when eating and told that the way they were eating was too sexual or distracting and that they should eat somewhere “more private.” This is just a fraction of the nonsense people put breastfeeding mothers through.

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Leana Wen

How Can It Be National Wellness Month When There is an Opioid Crisis? (The Afro)

In their op-ed, Kevin Daniels and Anthony Estreet focus on the gravity of the opioid epidemic and the need for more action.

"According to Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Even with interventions in place, we have not even seen where the peak of the epidemic is going to be and there appears to be no end in sight – we don’t know how much worse the problem is going to get.” We are clearly in a state of emergency."

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Drug users will be given free needles in Merced under new program (Merced Sun-Star)

A program in Merced will soon provide clean needles to drug users in an attempt to reduce the transfer of diseases, according to doctors.

Needle-exchange programs have shown some success. When Baltimore’s program launched more than 20 years ago, 63 percent of those with HIV were IV drug users. By 2014, the only 7 percent were IV drug users, contributing to one of the nation’s largest drops in new HIV cases, according to the Baltimore Sun.

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Health Commissioner Declares Code Red Extreme Heat Alert through Thursday

BALTIMORE, MD (September 4, 2018) – With continued high temperatures in the Baltimore region and a heat index expected to reach 105 degrees Fahrenheit Wednesday and Thursday, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen has extended the previously announced Code Red Extreme Heat Alert through Thursday, September 6.

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