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Health Problems in Mississippi Keep Experts Struggling to Kickstart Solutions

By Rhonda Miller | Published 01 May 2011 03:16pm | comments
The Mississippi Health Summit drew 150 healthcare professionals to Hattiesburg.

Healthcare experts know people in Mississippi are still eating too much fried food and not exercising enough. MPB's Rhonda Miller reports leaders at the first Mississippi Health Summit admit it's tough finding a solution to match the size of the state's big health problem.

Let’s start with one huge issue. Mississippi has the lowest number of health care providers in every category. Luke Lampton is chairman of the State Board of Health.

"There are counties without physicians in the state of Mississippi," Lampton said. "As well, the rural pharmacist is almost a thing of the past."

Dr. Rick deShazo is a professor of medicine at University of Mississippi Medical Center and the host of Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Southern Remedy show. He gives the state a failing grade on dealing with widespread health problems.

"We’re talking about how often people have heart attacks, strokes that are mostly preventable, how much obesity we have, how much diabetes we have," deShazo said. "We’re number one, or close to the top, in having the worst problems in the country."

At the summit held in Hattiesburg last week, DeShazo said leaders have been trying figure out what Mississippi’s big healthcare problem is.

"We thought it was obesity, then we found out there was a poverty piece, and there was a racial piece, and there was a cultural piece, and there was a problem with education, and there was a medical piece, a political piece, but when you put em all together, the biggest problem we found is a lack of leadership," deShazo said.

That’s the reason, exactly, for the first Mississippi Health Summit – to develop the leadership to bring all those pieces together. So far, there’s no action plan - just one word that sums up the next step - collaboration.

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The Mississippi Health Summit drew 150 healthcare professionals to Hattiesburg.


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