DAY 3 OF BUDGET HEARINGS: Department of Health: Poverty and Low Health Outcomes Related; Targeted Investments Work
September 22nd, 2011
During yesterday’s budget hearing, the Mississippi Department of Health provided a snapshot of a number of health indicators for residents of Mississippi. The following table provides an overview of the selected health indicators shared with the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
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Upon being questioned about the reasons for the rankings, poverty was cited as one of the major reasons for low health outcomes by the state health officer. In particular, poverty was cited as a key factor in the state’s obesity rate and infant mortality. The reflections make sense. Low-income communities have less access to health and fresh foods, which affects obesity rates, for example. Parents with lower incomes are likely to have less access and exposure to parental education (SIDS prevention, for example) after a child is born.
At the same time, targeted investments work. In 2010, Mississippi received an award for having the highest rate of childhood vaccinations. Nearly 75 percent of all children 19-35 months of age have received immunizations compared to a national rate of approximately 70 percent. The commendation is to be celebrated and offers a valuable lesson. When we invest in the public structures at levels that lead to success, the whole state benefits from the investment in the short term (healthier kids) and in the long term (lower health care costs).