A panel of experts gathered recently at the Jackson State Downtown campus to discuss ways to help Mississippi move from last to first in the health care module.
The overall data presented in a research brief by JSU’s Mississippi Urban Research Center (MURC) on the state’s health care system show challenges ultimately decrease the life expectancy of its residents when compared to other states throughout the country.
The study discloses the leading causes of death in Mississippi include: Alzheimer’s disease (66%); diabetes (39%); stroke and heart attacks tied at (22%).
Dr. Mohammad Shahbazi, interim dean of the School of Public Health, said the state’s main issues are financial, structural and a result of people working in silos.
“Mississippi has a major problem with structure. No one is providing an environment for people to be healthy. We live in capitalistic society where only money is valued; therefore, we don’t provide health care. We only provide sick care.”
The study reveals that Mississippi faces bigger health barriers than other states.
The challenges identified from this research included: (1) Mississippi’s poor health outcomes; (2) limited access to many health care services; (3) Mississippi’s weak economy.
Dr. Mario Azevedo, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said “The state offers little to no help and holds everyone accountable for their own health care. They treat it like it’s just for the rich and not a right for all.”
Although some improvement has been made, the state’s system is still miserably failing when it comes to health care access, the economy and personal behavioral patterns.
“We need to have literacy campaigns to make sure people are aware of health issues because it affects everyone”, Dr. Azevedo said.
MURC panelists also challenged the political system, labeling it inadequate and unsupportive to changing health outcomes in Mississippi.
Janice Sherman, CEO for Mississippi Primary Health Care Association said, “In order to see a shift in the health care model in Mississippi; we have to change who’s in office locally and congressionally. We have the power to vote, and that’s the only way the system will change.”
“The federal government thinks health is not a right, once you say it is a right, it then becomes their responsibility. They only advocate for the privileged” Dr. Azevedo said.
Panelists suggested that adequate resources, integrated work ethics and better access could result in a healthier Mississippi.
“We have to get out and be advocates for better healthcare in Mississippi” said Falasha Reed, head nurse at G.A. Carmichael Family Health Center.