• 43°

Editorial: Strive for health equity

Rowan County has made remarkable strides recently in addressing health issues, rising from 73rd to 62nd in health outcomes calculated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Compared to the state’s 99 other counties on medical care, access to healthy food and exercise, housing, education and jobs, Rowan is coming up in the world.

We have catching up to do. Of the five counties surrounding Rowan, only Davidson County has a lower ranking in overall health outcomes, 64. Other rankings are Cabarrus, 9; Davie, 13; Iredell, 19 and Stanly 43.

Of more concern to Rowan, though, are troubling disparities behind health outcomes — disparities that local leaders must address. For example:

Poverty: In Rowan, Some 48 percent of black children and 38 percent of Hispanic children live in poverty, compared to 18 percent of white children.

Teen pregnancy: For black female teenagers in Rowan, the birth rate was 46 per 1,000. For Hispanic teens, the number rose to 70 per 1,000. For white teens, it fell to 27 per 1,000 for white teens.

Poverty and teen births are closely intertwined. In nearly all cases, teen pregnancy sets the stage for economic struggles that hurt mother and child. Attacking the problem of children having children could open doors of opportunity and improve health outcomes. It takes more than a “just say no” message, though.

In Spartanburg, S.C., for instance, community leaders realized in 2008 that they had the worst teen birth rate in the state. They brought together teens, providers, parents and partners to create solutions — a warm welcoming teen center, accessible and respectful reproductive health care, and open discussions about sexuality. Over the next 10 years, Spartanburg County’s s teen pregnancy rate fell almost 53 percent. They even closed the gap for births among black and white teens, reaching 23.3 per 1,000 for blacks and 23.9 per 1,000 for whites by 2016. That’s about half of Rowan’s recent birth rate of 46 per 1,000 among black female teens.

Health advocates cite obesity as Rowan County’s biggest health problem; it leads to multiple health problems and shortens lives. Healthy Rowan, a collaborative effort to boost local health, has encouraged schools to implement the “Daily Mile,” a regular program to get youngsters on their feet and running to stay healthy. This could be an invigorating, lifelong habit.

A similar all-out effort to reduce teen pregnancy could go a long way toward improving opportunity for everyone, most of all for young people of color.

Comments

BREAKING NEWS

District attorney won’t bring charges against former Salisbury officer depicted in K-9 video

Coronavirus

Cooper plans to lift gathering, distancing limits by June 1

Crime

Convicted sex offender charged with having child pornography

Crime

Rowan County woman faces drug crimes for gas station incident

Crime

Blotter: Thousands of dollars in lumber taken from Newsome Road house

Local

Locals react to Chauvin verdict, reflect on work still to do

Business

‘Believe me, they’ll be fresh’: Patterson Farm welcomes strawberry crop

Business

With remote expansion, outsource provider FCR looks to become an ‘exceptional part’ of Rowan community

Local

City expects $1.5 million surplus in current budget, ability to raise some wages for police, public works

Education

Enochville Elementary to host farewell event May 1

High School

High school softball: Carson beats West in a wild one

College

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will speak at NC State graduation

High School

Wonders, Trojans facing off Monday on Cannon Ballers’ field

Local

City approves two apartment developments, more than 160 new units

Nation/World

Crowds react with joy, wariness to verdict in Floyd’s death

News

Bill seeks to end pistol purchase permits from NC sheriffs

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 300th death attributed to COVID-19

News

Chauvin convicted on all counts in George Floyd’s death

Local

Top North Carolina House finance chair, Rowan representative stripped of position

Crime

One charged, another hospitalized in fight between cousins

Local

Bell Tower Green renamed to honor Stanbacks; Nancy Stanback receives key to city

Business

Commissioners green light additional houses at Cherry Treesort in China Grove

Education

A.L. Brown will hold in-person, outdoor graduation

Local

Granite Quarry awards FEMA contract for Granite Lake Park