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New Report Ranks Health of Mississippi Counties

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 26 Mar 2014 06:58pm | comments

The majority of counties in Mississippi received low health rankings based on a new report released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports how counties hope to make improvements.

For years counties in the Mississippi Delta have lead the state in a number of health disparities including cancer, heart disease, and  diabetes. But according to Kathryn Weir with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation many churches in the area are trying to change those unflattering statistic by reeducating members of the community.

"They've brought churches as sort of a hub where folks can receive health education and screenings. And they've come together around advancing childhood obesity prevention  policies such as walking trails or fresh fruits at the corner market in order to do so."

Since the rankings aren't  part of a race to the top Weir says it's up to each community to identify what their values are and how they would like to see their health rankings improve.

"That could be focusing on unemployment or high school graduate rates, un insurance or children in poverty or better housing or better transit options. So there are a variety of ways in which individuals and community members can continue in recognizing that everyone has a role in this work."

On the opposite spectrum, the report also showed that Desoto, Lamar, Lafayette, Rankin and Madison Counties are already making good grades when it comes to the overall health of its citizens.

“The biggest issue in Mississippi in this ranking is opportunity for economic improvement because that would improve health.”

That’s State Health Officer, Dr. Mary Currier.

"This doesn't compare us to the rest of the country it compares us to ourselves. And really each county should be taking this information and using it to target interventions to improve health and using it themselves to compare themselves across time as comparing to other counties."

The 2014 Health Rankings report compares counties in each individual state. It does not however, compare the health of one state to another. Part of the criteria includes education, income, housing and access to care.

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