Siva Sundaram Moderates the Discussion As Thousands Enroll in Harvard Course on Opioids

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Siva Sundaram (Photo courtesy: PRI Public Radio International)

CAMBRIDGE, MA—An online Harvard Medical School course that focuses on opioid abuse treatment and prevention has drawn over 7,500 enrollees from over 100 countries since its launch on March 27, reported the Harvard Crimson. The discussion is moderated by Second-year Harvard Medical School student Siva S. Sundaram.

Individuals from over 100 countries have enrolled in “OpioidX: The Opioid Crisis in America,” with the majority hailing from Brazil, United States and Canada, Harvard Crimson quoted Sarah E. Wakeman, an assistant medical school professor who was involved in the creation of OpioidX, as saying.

Siva Sundaram (Photo courtesy: PRI Public Radio International)

“There are many ways that we need to be addressing the opioid crisis, which is an epidemic of unintended death due to untreated opioid addiction,” Wakeman said as reported by Harvard Crimson. “The opioid use disorder and death from opioid use is really the public health crisis of our time.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 33,000 individuals—including 1,751 in Massachusetts—died in 2015 as a result of opioid overdose, which Wakeman said was “easily preventable.”

Harvard Crimson said that Sundaram, a member of the Student Coalition on Addiction, is now a discussion moderator for OpioidX. Sundaram said that he was “impressed” with the depth of course, which features individuals who were affected by addiction.

“I think [the course] is a way of taking a deeper look at a topic that is getting a lot of press but without a lot of depth,” Harvard Crimson quoted Sundaram as saying. “It’s a way to learn about what it is like to experience opioid addiction…and a way to humanize the person, to help fight some of the stigma still pulling us back.”

Sundaram said that he encourages Harvard undergraduates to “flip through the course” given that Harvard is “embedded in one of the largest centers of the opioid crisis,” which isn’t always apparent to many undergraduates.

“There is real but slow improvement,” said Sundaram, “but it is really important for people to understand what is going on in the community.”

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