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Overdose Prevention

Over the last 20 years, drug overdose deaths have increased significantly in many parts of the world.

About our overdose prevention work

As part of their work with the Partnership for Healthy Cities, urban centers are addressing the overdose crisis by:

  • Establishing a naloxone distribution program or expanding access; or

  • Establishing community-based harm reduction services (e.g., syringe exchange, drop-in center).

City activities

Athens, Greece is working alongside key stakeholders to advocate for a new national law that would make naloxone more accessible, including to the friends and loved ones of people that use drugs.

San Francisco, United States is working to reduce fatal opioid-associated overdose deaths through the development, implementation and evaluation of a naloxone vending machine program to increase availability of the life-saving medication.


In 2019, an estimated 600,000 deaths were attributable to drug use around the world.


Close to 80% of these deaths are related to opioids, with about 25% of those deaths caused by opioid overdose.

Explore further

Fighting the opioid crisis: The case of Athens

With support from the Partnership, the city has implemented widely recognized harm reduction programs.

WHO Fact Sheet: Opioid overdose

Read more about risk factors for opioid overdose in this webpage from the World Health Organization.

Access to naloxone to reduce overdose deaths

One of five fact sheets published by Vital Strategies explaining interventions needed to end the overdoses crisis.