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.

Sample data

Choose one of the areas above to see a comparative chart, or see our full set of data charts.

Sisters United: Get the Best Start in Life

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

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.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an increasing cause of illness and death in the United States. Two to three million persons are currently living with HCV infection, but many are unaware they are infected, and do not receive care. Persons born between 1945 and 1965 account for about 75% of all HCV infections in the U.S., and are at greatest risk for liver cancer and other liver diseases. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended hepatitis C testing for everyone in this age range.

The OHDE works with the MSDH Office of HIV/STD to provide hepatitis C screenings and data analysis, and culturally appropriate Hepatitis C education. Thanks to partnerships with local organizations, we are now administering rapid hepatitis C testing statewide to Mississippians at risk.

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.

Medical Interpreter Training

The ODHE established the state's first medical interpreter training, and it now serves as a prerequisite for medical interpreter certification. For information about upcoming training, contact the OHDE at 601-576-7622.

Eat Healthy, Be Active — Community Workshops for Latinos in the Delta

The goal of Eat Healthy, Be Active Community Workshops is to increase knowledge of diabetes and healthy nutrition habits in Hispanic communities. Hispanics have higher rates of obesity than non-Hispanic Caucasians, and Mexican-Americans suffer disproportionately from diabetes. Improved nutrition and greater physical activity can address both of these serious health conditions.

The OHDE's monthly education sessions culminate with an event commemorating the National Hispanic Heritage month. For information about repeating this training in your area, contact the OHDE at 601-576-7622.

Health Care Reform

According to the Center for Economic and Public Policy Research, 46 million Americans live without health insurance. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 extends insurance coverage across lines of income, sex and race, helping eliminate health disparities. Because many of the law's provisions have already begun implementation, the public benefits from education on health care reform and its relevance to their health care.

The OHDE's Health Care Reform Education and Awareness Campaign is designed to bring Mississippi residents culturally and linguistically appropriate information on the new health and wellness resources associated with the Affordable Care Act, and prepare residents and providers for its expansion of health insurance coverage.

Other ACA Resources

The Mississippi Health Equity Plan

The OHDE has created a consortium of state organizations, professionals, and lay members of the public to provide reliable and accurate information on the state's health disparities, and to use this information to create a plan to reduce health disparities in Mississippi. The goal of the Mississippi Health Equity Plan is to identify health disparity elimination strategies, and engage stakeholders in putting the plan to work.

The Mississippi Health Equity Plan will address a broad range of disparity areas:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Disease (Hypertension/Stroke)
  • Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Disability
  • Health Care Access (Coverage/Workforce)
  • Health Literacy Cultural & Linguistic Competencies
  • Infant Mortality
  • Immunizations
  • Injuries & Violence
  • Mental Health
  • Obesity
  • Oral Health
  • Teen Pregnancy

Data and Statistics

Resources and Links


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 

More topics

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