Mississippi Delta Health Collaborative
The Mississippi State Department of Health is working to reduce high rates of chronic disease among impoverished communities in the rural Delta region, the northwest section of the state bordered by the Mississippi River. In 2010, the department’s Office of Preventive Health established the Mississippi Delta Health Collaborative (MDHC) to Eliminate Health Disparities and create Healthy and Safe Community Environments through policy, clinical and community services, and partnerships with diverse community organizations within the Mississippi Delta Region. The release of the National Prevention Strategy in 2011 reinforced MDHC’s cross-sector initiatives described below, supporting their expansion. For example, the Mayor’s Health Councils have grown from just seven municipalities in 2011 to more than 43 in 2014. The County Planning and Development Councils (CPDCs), MDHC’s newest initiative, have utilized the National Prevention Strategy framework to guide their strategic planning.
MDHC facilitates community change in the face of limited resources by offering technical assistance, such as training opportunities and health data analysis, to stakeholders in various communities. The technical assistance opportunities help participants re-define their roles as leaders in the community and identify opportunities to promote health.
- Mayor’s Health Councils: MDHC works with local mayors to establish local coalitions charged with identifying and implementing policies and actions that will improve health at the community level. Several dozen councils in towns throughout the Delta have worked to develop comprehensive smoke-free ordinances (reaching 25% of the MS Delta population) or partial smoke-free ordinances (reaching 14% of the MS Delta population); establish farmers markets (reaching 42% of MS Delta population); and advance joint-use agreements (reaching 10% of the MS Delta population) in order to promote Tobacco Free Living, Healthy Eating, and Active Living. By championing healthy lifestyles and leading by example, town mayors are helping local residents confront and overcome their community’s health challenges.
- County Planning and Development Councils: In order to coordinate health improvement strategies at the regional level, MDHC has worked with elected officials, employers, healthcare providers, and other community leaders to establish councils responsible for developing specific strategies to promote health and improve the healthcare delivery system. In addition to offering regional-level support for Tobacco Free Living, Healthy Eating, and Active Living goals, CPDCs work to expand primary care capacity and increase public awareness of the importance of regular preventive care, thus advancing NPS recommendations related to Clinical and Community Preventive Services. CPDCs promote the use of transportation assistance and after-hours care, as well as conduct informational campaigns to disseminate information on chronic disease prevention.
- Delta Alliance for Congregational Health: MDHC worked with a dozen faith-based communities to establish a coalition of churches that offer preventive screenings, health counseling, and evidence-based interventions for heart disease and stroke prevention. By offering health services in community settings, these churches are supporting expanded access to care and advancing NPS recommendations related to Clinical and Community Preventive Services.
MDHC is working with communities across the Mississippi Delta to enhance the public health infrastructure and promote community environments that help prevent chronic disease. Together, these actions will make a real, positive difference in the quality of life in the Delta region. Visit the MDHC website or read the Mississippi State Department of Health profile [PDF] to learn more.