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For Release: September 4, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Public Health Solutions Sought from the Public-At-Large

Why does the most powerful nation in the world have some of the worst health outcomes among the industrialized nations, despite spending more than twice the amount of money per person on health care?

This topic will be discussed at an upcoming town hall meeting on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 5:30 p.m. at Langston University OKC Campus, 4205 Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City. Partners of the Oklahoma Health Equity Campaign are sponsoring the town hall meeting.

The meeting will utilize the program “When the Bough Breaks” from the Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? PBS documentary series. Participants will learn that the U.S. trails 28 other countries in life expectancy, and even more troublesome, the U.S. ranks 40th behind Hungary and Poland in infant mortality.

For example, in 2005, Oklahoma ranked 40th in the nation in infant mortality at 8.1 deaths compared to the national rate of 6.9. The 2002-2006 averaged infant mortality rate statewide in Oklahoma was 7.8. However, there remain racial disparities in Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate with the African American infant mortality rate at 16.0 and Native American infant mortality at 8.4.

The Oklahoma Health Equity Campaign challenges the conventional approach to prevention, which mostly has been limited to encouraging healthy behaviors. Much of what affects our health lies outside an individual’s personal control, such as better land use, transportation and business investment, and ensuring that every neighborhood has access to supermarkets and healthy foods. It also includes creating safe streets and green space so people can walk, job, bike and play; investing in our schools; paid vacations and family leave; and living wage jobs with career ladders.

“There’s more to our health than medical care, bad habits or unlucky genes. In fact, there’s a killer hidden in plain view: the social, economic and physical environments in which we are born, live and work that profoundly affect our well-being and longevity,” said Health Equity and Resource Director Marisa New.

Sponsors of this town hall meeting include the following: Langston University Cooperative Extension, Central Oklahoma Healthy Start Initiative, INTEGRIS Health, Oklahoma Institute of Child Advocacy, COINS, Capitol Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Metro Transit, Oklahoma City Housing Authority, Oklahoma Turning Point Council, Community Health Centers, Inc., Oklahoma State Department of Health, OU Department of Human Relations, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Oklahoma Primary Care Association, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Community Institute, Latino Community Development Agency, Oklahoma Partnership for Public Deliberation and the OETA.

If you would like to learn more about the Oklahoma health equities campaign, partners, or calendar of events, visit this Web site: http://www.oeta.onenet.net/unnaturalcauses.html. For information about the national public engagement campaign, visit: www.unnaturalcauses.org.

If you are interested in participating in the statewide OHEC campaign, call the Health Equity and Resource Opportunities Division at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, (405) 271-9444, ext. 56410.

To attend the town hall meeting on Thursday, Sept. 18, 5:30 p.m., at the Langston University OKC Campus, please call (405) 271-9444, ext. 56535 or respond by e-mail to adriennec@health.ok.gov.

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