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Office of Health Disparity Elimination

The Office of Health Disparity Elimination strives to identify health inequities and their root causes and to promote evidence-based solutions to create a more equitable health system. Private and public partnerships help us reduce health communication barriers and provide health education and health screenings.

About the Office

Since 2003, the Office of Health Disparity Elimination (OHDE) has worked to expand disparity elimination efforts to underserved populations. Our recent activities focus on health education, health screenings, and reducing health communication barriers in public health service areas. Read more

Health Disparity in Mississippi

Mississippians are not equally affected by disease. Certain groups bear a greater proportion of illness and death from major events like strokes and heart attacks, as well as from chronic conditions like asthma, obesity, and HIV.

Sisters United: Get the Best Start in Life

Sisters United will address the African-American infant mortality rate in Mississippi by working with African-American graduate sorority chapters to increase awareness of infant mortality and education on prevention strategies to reduce infant mortality.

Sisters United focuses on folic acid intake, which can decrease birth defects; safe sleep, which can decrease sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); breastfeeding, which aids in the overall health of the baby and the mother; and healthy weight before, during and after pregnancy, which lowers the risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, pre-term birth and complications during labor and delivery.

The graduate sorority chapters will participate in train-the trainer sessions that will equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct activities to increase awareness of infant mortality and prevention strategies to reduce infant mortality. The sororities will then conduct education events at the grass-roots level.

Infant mortality, premature births, and underweight births are serious problems in Mississippi, especially among African-Americans. The infant mortality rate among African-American babies is about 70% higher than among that of whites. But there are five important steps that you can take to help make sure that any baby develops well, is born on time, and has a safe and healthy first year of life. Watch video »

Programs and Activities

Community Research Fellows Training (CRFT)

The Community Research Fellows Training enhances community knowledge and understanding of research and creates a pool of trained community members who can participate more actively in research and address the health issues of their community.

Our goal is to promote the role of racial/ethnic and other underserved populations in the research enterprise by increasing the capacity for community-based participatory research between academia researchers, public health workers, community-based organizations, and community health workers serving the Greater Jackson Area.

The target population is Mississippi residents that are 18 years of age and have a high school education or its equivalent who live or work in public health district V (central Mississippi). Applicants must be able to make a three-hour, once a week commitment for 16 consecutive weeks. CRFT started August 19, 2014 and ended with a graduation ceremony on December 16, 2014.

Hepatitis B Education and Screening

An estimated 8,500 Vietnamese-Americans live in the Biloxi area of the Gulf Coast. Because about one out of seven Vietnamese-Americans in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis B, the OHDE has collaborated with partners on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to provide culturally appropriate hepatitis B education, screening, and treatment referral to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Vietnamese population. Our goal is to increase awareness, improve surveillance and clinical outcomes, and ultimately lower the hepatitis B burden in this population.

Infant Mortality Reduction

Mississippi has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation, and a two-to-one disparity in infant mortality between whites and non-whites. In 2011, African-Americans in Mississippi had an infant mortality rate of 13.2 per 1,000 live births, compared to 6.5 per 1,000 live births for whites.

The Office of Health Disparity Elimination is focussing its infant mortality education and awareness activities in Noxubee County, which had the 19th highest infant mortality rate in the state. We are developing a Resource Manual for youth and adults in the area to act as a guide to services and skills to create healthier families.

Cultural Competency

America has always been a multi-cultural society, and Mississippi is not an exception. Lack of diversity and cross-cultural skills in the public health profession may contribute heavily to health disparities in our communities.

In order to build competence in every MSDH associate's ability to communicate effectively with diverse patient populations, the Office of Health Disparity Elimination has made the highly-regarded program CRASH — A Course in Cultural Competence available to all employees. The goal is to ensure that all encounters between public health professionals and the public show awareness of Culture, demonstrate Respect, Assess/Affirm differences, show Sensitivity and Self-awareness, and do it all with Humility.

Culturally Appropriate Language Services

It's estimated that 31,900 of Mississippi's Spanish-speaking residents have limited English proficiency as of 2013. Due to the rapid increase of the Hispanic population in Mississippi and the reports received from the public health districts about the challenges in giving services to patients with limited English proficiency, the Office of Health Disparity Elimination now employs Latino Outreach Coordinators to assist the state's WIC program and to conduct medical Interpreter trainings statewide. One of the program's goals is also to make all MSDH educational materials available in Spanish.

For information about training in your area, contact the OHDE at 601-576-7622.

Health Care Reform

With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, Mississippi has the opportunity to make substantial changes in the availability of health insurance coverage to its citizens. Mississippi has an uninsured rate of 20.6% with some counties having rates as high as 26.4%. Of the low-income non-elderly adults between the ages of 19 and 64 in Mississippi, 40% are uninsured. Under the ACA, in Mississippi half (50%) of currently uninsured non-elderly people are eligible for financial assistance in gaining coverage (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014). A small number of uninsured adult parents are eligible for Medicaid in Mississippi under the eligibility pathways in place before the ACA. However, not all eligible individuals are enrolled in the program due to lack of knowledge about their eligibility and historic enrollment barriers.

The Affordable Care Act Outreach and Education is a multilayered program focused on training healthcare professionals and community members about the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace. The program address issues related to access to care due to lack of insurance or being underinsured. In addition, this project focuses on increasing information about health disparities in Mississippi. One product from this effort is collaborating with the Office of Health Data and Research on a “State of the State” Health Disparities Report.

Our goal is to promote health equity in Mississippi by increasing health care access through education dissemination on components of the Affordable Care Act.

The target population is Mississippi’s minority population (African Americans, Latinos, and Vietnamese) who are uninsured or underinsured.

Other ACA Resources

Data and Statistics

Resources and Links

Accomplishments

Since its inception, the Office of Health Disparity Elimination has:

  • Provided interpreter certification training to over 90 Mississippi State Department of Health and Community Medical Interpreters.
  • Conducted Hepatitis B screenings and provided results to residents in the Vietnamese Community on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
  • Sponsored an Infant Mortality Resource Awareness Forum in Noxubee County to raise awareness of the high rate of infant mortality.
  • Provided Cultural Competency training to more than 2,500 Mississippi State Department of Health employees in partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
  • Established a state-wide Consortium of members from a variety organizations and professions to address disparities within the State of Mississippi.
  • Awarded $61,000 to community-based/faith-based organizations in the state.
  • Sponsored Health Disparity Summits in Greenwood and Jackson.
  • Held Legislative Hearings with the Mississippi State Legislative Select Committee on Health Disparity.
  • Assisted in Hurricane Katrina relief and rebuilding efforts, including housing efforts, medical, mental health, and other services for evacuees; and created a Disaster Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction Guide for faith-based and community-based organizations.

Contact Us

Contact the Office of Health Disparity Elimination at 601-206-1540.

This page last reviewed on Aug 27, 2013 report errors on this page e-mail email this page print print 

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Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866-HLTHY4U web@HealthyMS.com
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