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Conference Looks for Ways to Improve Healthcare in Miss.

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 23 May 2013 03:59pm | comments

Doctors, nurses, and public health officials from around Mississippi are meeting in Jackson to look for ways to improve the health of Mississippians. The conference is focused on getting whole communities involved in living healthier lives.

 Mississippi's notoriously poor public health is well known, but Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones of Emory University says a major factor is being overlooked.

 "Where you live can make you sicker or keep you well," said Jones.

 Jones was a featured speaker at Empowering Communities for a Healthy Mississippi, a conference in Jackson that is drawing hundreds of people from around the state.

 "The real world effect is that where you go to school impacts your health. How much education you have effects your health. Where you live, the quality of your house, whether or not you are under stress all the time because you have to work three jobs all of this impacts your health," Jones said.

 Jones says it is impossible to ignore disparities between communities, such as race, poverty, and education when attempting to improve the health of Mississippians.

 "And so we have to go beyond individual behaviors and talk about the social determinants of health. And we have to go beyond the social determinants of health and talk about why is that these people are concentrated in poor neighborhoods and these people are concentrated in rich neighborhoods. What are the decision making processes going on there?" Jones said.

 Claiborne County administrator Brenda Buck says the lack of resources has made improving the health of her residents a challenge.

 "It has a lot to do with lack of access to markets. And dealing with the situation of low income disparities. Hopefully we will be able to work on those things to increase the standard of living for our citizens there," Buck said.

 Buck says residents in her county are interested in being healthier if the options are there for them.

 The conference runs through Friday in downtown Jackson.






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