Data Points: Health and Health Equity
February 9th, 2017
Data is a valuable component in helping to create healthy communities in the Mid South. It can be used to identify problems, provide context and inform potential solutions to the health challenges faced by Mid South residents. By using data to drive efforts to create healthier Mid South communities, community members become partners in leveraging data to develop strategies aimed at improving health and closing the health equity gap in the region.
The scope in which data informs the development of policies and programs is not limited to health but includes a range of data points that can be leveraged to improve the quality of life in the region. Multiple social and environmental factors influence health and these factors, social determinants of health, contribute to poor health outcomes, especially in the Mid South. For example, poverty has long been defined as a factor that influences health and health outcomes. However, understanding the deep impact of persistent poverty in the region through the use of data can help communities in identifying longer-term, sustainable solutions that limit the effects of generational poverty on health.
As communities look to lead efforts that will improve the quality of life for residents, data is a powerful asset in developing programs and policies that are targeted and effective. These efforts provide an opportunity for communities to be change agents in helping to address community health needs. For example, approximately 23.2 percent of low-income census tracts in the Mid South have low access to a healthy food retail outlet. Knowing whether or not a community exists in an area that lacks access to healthy food becomes an important data point as communities seek to remedy this problem through strategic partnerships. One such partnership may include leveraging the capacity of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), such as HOPE, to provide capital for grocery retailers interested in opening in areas that have low food access.
Below are a few data and policy resources that can be instrumental in informing discussions on health, developing programs to support healthy communities and in working to close the health equity gap.
- County Health Rankings & Roadmaps: measures vital health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income, and teen births in nearly every county in America.
- Kaiser Family Foundation: provides non-partisan facts, analysis, and journalism for policymakers, the media, the health policy community and the public on national health issues, as well as the U.S. role in global health policy.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Sources for Data on Social Determinants of Health: provides tools that include references to data sources supported by the CDC and outside of the CDC.
- Healthy People: provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans that include measurable objectives and goals that are applicable at the national, state and local levels.