According to Dr. Tanya Funchess with the Mississippi Department of Health, where people live, work, play and learn contributes to their access to quality healthcare.
"You can see that in inequality of education, food security, job opportunities, living wages, if they health insurance or no health insurance, public safety. They may not feel safe if they can't walk in their communities." said Funchess.
Those are some of the factors listed in the health department's first State of the State Health Disparities and Inequalities Report. Dr. Funchess says, biology and genetics play a role in health. But people who systemically experience greater obstacles to healthcare based on factors such as race, religion, gender and mental health have worse health outcomes. She says two critical concerns are income and education.
"In each category no matter what the disease is, those people who have lower income, $15,000 or less or also with no high school education at all, have less favorable outcomes." said Funchess.
Dr. Funchess explains that minorities living in poverty in the state are disproportionately impacted, however poor Mississippians regardless of race are less healthy. Effectively combating the problem requires addressing all of the factors. DeMarc Hickson is with My Brother's Keeper. They work to educate low-income families statewide about healthcare resources, promote no-smoking in public places, host forums, and open schools so people can exercise.
"And to actually then bring linkages and partnerships because just like it takes a village to raise a child it takes a community to raise a community." said Hickson.
Dr. Tanya Funchess says there are groups working to address the issues independently, but a comprehensive statewide plan is not in place.