Search
GOVERNMENTNews ReleasesBlog   

Published on Monday, April 11, 2016

Public Health Issue Number 1: Health Inequity

The following article was written by St. Louis County Public Health Nurse Josh Gorham. It was originally published in the Duluth Budgeteer on April 10, 2016.

This past week has been National Public Health Week. It’s a time to raise awareness of the work of Public Health professionals and talk about the most challenging public health issue of the 21st century.

Your health is determined by a variety of factors: genetics, personal habits, access to quality and timely healthcare, and the environments in which you live, work and play. Think of environment in a broad sense; it could be the air in your home, the water you drink, access to goods and services such as food or healthcare, and even access/opportunity to living wage jobs.

Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota’s Commissioner of Health, has recognized that although Minnesota is one of the healthiest states in the nation, we also have some of the largest differences in health outcomes by income, race, sexual-orientation, and mental health status. 

Here are some facts from the Minnesota Department of Health’s 2014 “Advancing Health Equity” report to the legislature that highlight the disparity in health among specific populations:

  • African American and American Indian babies die in the first year of life at twice the rate of white babies. While infant mortality rates for all groups have declined, the disparity in rates has existed for over 20 years.
  • American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, and African American youth have the highest rates of obesity.
  • Intimate partner violence affects 11 to 24 percent of high school seniors, with the highest rates among American Indian, African American and Hispanic/Latino students.
  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual university students are more likely than their heterosexual peers to have struggles with their mental health.
  • Persons with serious and persistent mental illness die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general public.

The root cause of these differences in health outcomes among populations is likely found in differences in economic and social conditions, which are strong predictors of health. Consider the following facts, also found in the Minnesota Department of Health’s report, which correlate with different health outcomes for various populations:

  • Poverty rates for children under 18 in Minnesota are twice as high for Asian children, three times as high for Hispanic/Latino children, four times as high for American Indian children, and nearly five times as high for African American children as for white children.
  • Unemployment is highest among populations of color, American Indians, and people who live in rural Minnesota.
  • African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos in Minnesota have less than half the per-capita income of the white population.
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth are at increased risk for bullying, teasing, harassment, physical assault, and suicide-related behaviors compared to other students.
  • Low-income students are more likely to experience residential instability.
  • American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, and African American youth have the lowest rates of on-time high school graduation.
  • African Americans and American Indians are incarcerated at nine times the rate of white persons.

These differences in health outcomes are also reflected in St. Louis County’s 2013 community health status report “Health is more than Healthcare.” Significant differences in life expectancy, as high as ten years, were found among ZIP codes within St. Louis County. There was strong correlation between life expectancy, education attained, neighborhood environment, and income. 

Health is not always determined by personal choices, genetics, or even just access to healthcare. We are seeing that some populations are experiencing circumstances beyond their control, and unfortunately, it is having a ripple effect on their health and well-being. This reality is not unique to St. Louis County or the State of Minnesota – it is a reality across the country. 

During National Public Health Week, I challenge us all to examine what we can do to support change that will lead to the elimination of the health disparities in our communities. 

Rate this article:
No rating
Comments (0)Number of views (4365)
Print

Leave a comment

Name:
Email:
Comment:
CAPTCHA image
Enter the code shown above in the box below.
Add comment

Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
x
We welcome comments to this blog. Any comments submitted to this page are public records subject to disclosure under public record law(s). Comments expressed on this site do not reflect the opinions and position of St. Louis County government or its employees. All comments will be moderated, which means there may be a time delay between when a comment is submitted and when it appears. Inappropriate comments, comments not topically related, profane or vulgar language, or comments that are discriminatory will be rejected. Likewise, we will not permit comments that are political in nature, libelous, make any type of personal attack, violate copyrights, solicitations, conduct or encourage illegal activity, or that may compromise the safety, security or proceedings of public systems or any criminal or civil investigations.

Dana-Kazel-2017

Public Information
Dana Kazel 
Room 213
100 N 5th Ave W
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 725-5049
«November 2017»
MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
30311

Sold! How tax forfeited land auctions help communities and lower your taxes

tax forfeited house for sale

Most tax forfeited land is kept for forest management.... At the same time, we are always looking for opportunities to resell and develop properties if that’s their best use. We want those parcels back on the property tax rolls.

Read more
23
39

A pie in the face for a good cause

pie in the face for United WayWho is this St. Louis County department head and why is he smiling? (And trust us, beneath all that whipped cream, he really is smiling.) Because he just helped raise hundreds of dollars for the United Way.

Read more
45
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930123
45678910