Southeastern Health Equity Report Card Released
The Southeastern Health Equity Council (SHEC) has released its report card identifying where health disparities exist for key indicators related to healthcare access, healthy food access and cultural competency. South Carolina is one of eight states represented by the SHEC, which is one of ten regional health equity councils formed in 2011 to implement the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities. The report card utilizes publically available state data to inform grades that are awarded by comparing each data point to one of several possible benchmarks.
The three target areas of healthcare access, healthy food access and cultural competency provide a platform to highlight key areas of consideration for policy efforts. The report card also draws attention to gaps in data collection and public reporting. Key findings illustrate that all of the states included in the report scored an “F” in food insecurity corresponding to the high percentage of the population living in food deserts (where no full-service grocery store exists in the vicinity).
“The SHEC Health Equity Report Card gives our State and others in the region a visual and easy to understand report with measurable standards for improvement. Like other such report cards, the SHEC Health Equity Report Card utilized best practices, national standards, and priority goals as a baseline for comparable data. When there is no data in a category for our State, we have no baseline to begin to improve. The gaps in data collection are a serious concern when we look at systemic long term change for South Carolina. As part of the work of the SHEC, we are looking at ways to address these problematic data gaps through policy and legislative changes throughout the Region” said Marcy L. Hayden, Co-Chair of Cultural Competency Committee, SHEC and Native American Affairs Coordinator at the SC Commission for Minority Affairs.
Report card findings highlight the cultural landscape of the southeast which is home to the largest Black/African American population in the country. The Southeastern region is also seeing an increase in the American Indian, Appalachian and impoverished populations. Recently the population of foreign-born and those speaking English as a second language have increased substantially in the Southeast. South Carolina was ranked as #1 in the country for growth of the Hispanic population. The report card also indicates that while the majority of Southeastern states have shown increases in fruit and vegetable consumption, both North and South Carolina have shown decreases in this measure since 2003. Implications for practice are included in the report with a suggestion for agencies to consider including sexual orientation in future data collection and reporting. Additionally, it is suggested to merge death certificate data with disability data to report mortality rates by disability status.