County Health Rankings & Roadmaps are Call to Action for SC Counties

The South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH) is proud to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute to promote the 2012 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

The Rankings compare almost every county in the state to its neighbors to show communities areas in which they are doing well and could do better. The Roadmaps guide counties to use the Rankings to take action to reduce barriers to health.

“The annual County Health Rankings provide a useful reflection of where we stand when it comes to improving health and quality of life for all South Carolinians,” according to Dr. Lee Pearson, IMPH director of operations.

In South Carolina, Beaufort has the healthiest residents and Allendale County is the least healthy county in the state, according to this year’s County Health Rankings. To see how South Carolina’s counties ranked, learn more at http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/south-carolina/2012.

“Although there are promising signs in certain areas of our state, there are still far too many communities facing challenges in factors such as access to quality healthcare and support for improving individual health behaviors. The current report serves as a reminder for us to maintain our focus in working to improve the broader determinants of health that impact the lives of individuals in every county of our state,” Dr. Pearson said.

The Rankings consider health outcomes, or the current state of health, using the following measures: the death rate before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low birth-weight infants.

The Rankings also examine factors that affect people’s future health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. These factors measure rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, excessive drinking among adults, and teenage births; the number of uninsured under age 65, availability of primary care physicians, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, adults who have attended some college, children in poverty; community safety; limited access to healthy foods; rates of physical inactivity; and air pollution levels.

This year, the program also includes the County Health Roadmaps, which help counties to initiate action to create healthier communities. This project includes grant opportunities for local coalitions and national organizations, awards for communities already taking initiative and tools and support for groups working to improve health. For more information about these resources, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org/roadmaps.

The Rankings show that where we live, learn, work and play matters to our health. In the spirit of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, IMPH is working to support health considerations in community planning by conducting Health Impact Assessments (HIAs). A recent grant from the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) will allow IMPH to study the potential effects of expansion and addition of parks, green space and trails in three low to moderate income neighborhoods in Greenville County. To follow progress with this project, please visit the Initiatives section.

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