Why Mississippi is the Unhealthiest State in the Country?

Asmita Karanje

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According to America's Health Rankings data, Mississippi has been the unhealthiest state in the United States from 1990 to 2019.

Despite being a leader in telehealth and childhood vaccinations, the state's high rates of poverty, smoking, and obesity have contributed to it being the unhealthiest in the country.

State health rankings are based on five parameters (behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care, and outcomes data).

Mississippi has consistently ranked low on all these parameters.

Outcomes data is the result of all the other four parameters cumulatively reflecting the physical and mental well-being of the state. It takes into account length of life and quality of life such as mortality rate.

As per a National Geographic report, the average life expectancy of a person in Mississippi is 74.5 years, much lower than Hawaiians at 81.5 and 10 years lesser than Singaporeans at 85.5 years.

Individuals' health behaviors take into account alcohol intake, smoking, red meat consumption, and propensity to exercise.

The physical environment is where the individuals live, work, play, and the communities they grow up in. Therefore, clean air and safe drinking water are essential for good health.

The focus of clinical care is on access to care, which includes the community's number of primary care providers and dentists per resident and quality of care, which includes measures of preventing hospital visits and disease monitoring.

Lastly, the social and economic factors include income, wealth, occupation, education, and where that individual lives.

The state ranked 49th in terms of behaviors and 44th in terms of policy and health outcomes. Overall, Mississippi ranked 50th in clinical care.

It was found out that the state has a shortage of doctors, lacks mental health providers, and has low preventative care.

Mississippi, unfortunately, has the highest infant mortality rate in the country, with 8.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The state still has the highest rate of babies born underweight in the country, at 11.4 percent of births, and the rate is rising. Likewise, the rate of premature births is rising at 13.6 percent based on the 2017 report.

Health issues in Mississippi are tied to their high rate of poverty. Poverty greatly affects the family’s ability to meet its basic needs and may limit access to health care, educational opportunities, physical activity options, and healthy foods.

The children are the most affected in this case as it showed that their health requirements are unmet, as nearly one-third or more than 220,000 children in the state live in poverty.

Mississippi has the highest cardiovascular deaths, which are 352.5 of every 100,000 people. A high rate of obesity, cigarette smoking, and poverty have contributed to this.

Several other factors contributed to the state’s being the unhealthiest, including lack of health insurance, having the fourth-lowest number of primary care physicians, a low number of dentists, ranking 45th for its number of mental health providers, and many more.

To tackle the healthcare issues, the state needs to address the economic woes of the underprivileged populations. A strong health care bill that could fix these gaps is the immediate need of the hour.

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Thinker, self-experimenter, and a newbie writer. I write about personal growth, socio-political issues, and career advice.

Dallas, TX
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