Mississippi leading nation in infant mortality, firearm death rates
Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024
The Mississippi State Department of Health released its annual report card this week. Although there are some positives, Mississippi still leads the nation in mortality deaths and firearm deaths.
According to the MSDH 2023 Report Card released Tuesday:
Mississippi continues to have serious public health challenges, but there are signs of improvement in important areas. Action now can start moving Mississippi’s health upward.
Where Work Is Needed
Mississippi remains one of the lowest ranking states in major chronic diseases and important health indicators like infant and maternal mortality. It’s currently the worst in the nation in pregnancy-related deaths of mothers and infants.
Heart disease is the state’s leading cause of death, and Mississippi’s rates of heart disease are among the nation’s highest.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death. Our high rates of cancer and cancer deaths are caused partly by lack of regular screening tests for cancer, and partly by lifestyle factors like diet and physical activity.
Mississippi has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the U.S., a dangerous long-term chronic disease that causes disability and, in many cases, death.
High obesity rates contribute all these causes of chronic illness and early death, and smoking raises the risk of almost all cancer types.
Many of these major causes of illness and death that hold Mississippi back are preventable by improvements in community and individual health.
Where We Are Improving
In the past year, Mississippi has shown some improvement in pregnancy-related deaths (both mothers and infants), which may indicate improvements in healthcare during pregnancy and in the first year of a child’s life.
Mississippi has improved its diabetes standing, moving up from 50th to 48th.
In the past few years, Mississippi has moved from 50th in the nation for obesity to 45th. Improving obesity rates can mean improvement in heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Deaths related to opioid use have fallen by 10%, and tuberculosis rates continue their gradual downward trend.
Our childhood vaccination rates are among the best in the nation, and continue to remain high, providing excellent protection for the youngest Mississippians.
What MSDH Is Doing
In addition to its disease prevention programs, MSDH has started new programs in 2023 to help address some of the barriers to public health improvement.
- Our Transportation to Health program provides free rides to health department appointments to make access to care and prevention services easier for populations that need it most.
- MSDH now offers free screening of blood pressure and blood sugar at all county health departments to help detect heart disease and diabetes early.
- We continue to help provide cancer screening and health services for women and children at risk, and diabetes management programs to help bring this common disease under control.