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For Release: May 6, 2009
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Annual State of the State’s Health Report Released Today

The Oklahoma State Board of Health released its 12th annual State of the State’s Health Report today. This year’s report represents a significant departure from previous versions. Rather than highlight a single theme or issue, the 2008 report reviews 33 key health indicators including heart disease deaths, cancer deaths, unintentional injury deaths, asthma prevalence, diabetes prevalence, fruit and vegetable consumption, smoking, and immunizations, among other indicators that contribute to Oklahoma’s overall health status. Each county in the state also has its own section in the report with a status “report card” on those same indicators.

The report offers good news about progress made in several key health issues. Oklahoma’s adult smoking rate dropped in 2008 to a historic low of less than 25 percent. Another bright spot is in the area of childhood immunizations, where Oklahoma’s child immunization rates rank among the top half of the U.S. And many Oklahomans who previously could not afford coverage have now gained health insurance through the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s “Insure Oklahoma” program.

Even so, significant health disparities exist for those Oklahomans who earn $25,000 per year or less and among those with a high school education or less – both critical social determinants of health that the report says should not be overlooked.

The report notes that Oklahoma still leads most of the nation with deaths due to heart disease, with only Mississippi having higher rates. Of particular concern are heart disease deaths and cerebrovascular disease deaths among African Americans, whose rates are higher than for any other ethnic group in Oklahoma.
Another critical health indicator for Oklahomans is diabetes prevalence, with significant disparities seen among the Native American and African American populations in the state.

The State of the State’s Health Report emphasizes that in this difficult economy, it is more important than ever to tackle Oklahoma’s poor health status indicators, otherwise Oklahoma risks growing a new generation whose health is at greater jeopardy than their parents’ health.

In the county-by-county section, the report offers several examples of collaborative work occurring in Oklahoma communities to move key health indicators in a positive direction. “We are finally reaching critical mass where many partners working toward ‘creating a state of health’ are beginning to make positive impacts. It will require long-term commitment and sustained effort, but the tide can be turned,” the report states.

The 2008 State of the State’s Health Report, along with previous years’ reports, can be found on the Oklahoma State Department of Health Web site at:
http://www.ok.gov/health/pub/boh/state/index.html.

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