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Group To Discuss Bootheel Health Equity

Missouri Health Equity Collaborative

The Missouri Health Equity Collaborative will hold a community conversation on health equity in the Bootheel in Sikeston on Sept. 25. Bootheel leaders will come together to address health disparities and attempt to brainstorm and implement plans of action, according to a press release by the MOHEC.

MOHEC is funded through the Missouri Foundation for Health, and this community conversation is one of many the organization will hold in several different regions of Missouri, including Springfield, Kansas City, St. Louis and Cape Girardeau. Each meeting addresses the health disparities of that individual region.

Shannon Canfield is the Project Director for the University of Missouri Center for Health Policy. She said the environment in these different regions is often one of the main causes for the health disparities, such as barriers to accessing healthcare services or limited access to grocery stores to access healthy food.

“We’re not blaming individuals for their behaviors,” Canfield said. “That’s one of the big things we talk about when we have these discussions. We all do make choices, but there are larger environmental issues that contribute to health disparities, and that’s why we see these in large gaps within populations.”

In the community conversations, MOHEC and city leaders explore reasons why certain populations get sicker than others even though the diseases are preventable.

“Disparities really do mean that there are various populations, and they are traditionally underserved or what we call vulnerable populations, that are typically more affected where we see health outcomes that have a disproportionately higher rate of negative health outcomes as compared to the general population.” Canfield said.

Canfield said these health concerns exist all over the nation, but it’s important to take a regionalized approach to working on these issues, because the context in which people live matters and individually affects the health of each population.

Jami Black was an intern reporter for KRCU from 2013-2014.