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Analyze bright spots for success.

As Mississippi often finds itself at the bottom of many lists related to health care, sometimes taking a step back to acknowledge certain bright spots could be beneficial to ensuring those trends continue.

In an annual health scorecard issued by the Commonwealth Fund, a non-partisan foundation that advocates for high performing health systems around the world, Mississippi appeared to have sidestepped one of the more serious issues plaguing the rest of the country.

The report showed that Mississippi did not see the significant rise as other states did in what are called "deaths of despair," which are those connected to suicides, alcohol-related and drug overdoses. The increases in those deaths, as reported by the Daily Journal's Michaela Gibson Morris, has driven premature death rates up in most of the country.

In the 2018 scorecard, Mississippi ranked eighth with 35.5 deaths per 100,000 population due to suicide, alcohol and drug use, well below the national rate of 43.2 deaths per 100,000.

Commonwealth officials believe the measure driving this comes from the increase in deaths associated with drug overdoses, specifically opioid-related deaths.

Communities across the country are currently waging an intense battle with opioids and the harsh reality of the number of lives being lost in this crippling epidemic. Mississippi is no different with the governor even establishing a statewide task force to study challenges and potential solutions.

With high rates of opioid prescribing health advocates have been concerned that Mississippi could be facing a future wave of opioid-related deaths similar to what Appalachian states have seen.

Looking back between 2005-2016, Mississippi saw its drug-related deaths increase by 44 percent, said David Radley, the senior scientist with the Commonwealth Fund. The U.S. rate increased by 113 percent.

For the sake of all Mississippians, the hope is certainly that the dramatic difference in our state compared to the rest of the country isn't simply a lapse in the reporting and something that will eventually catch up over time.

If Mississippi has truly avoided some of the more profound impact seen in other states across the country, we need to be trying to dissect why it is that happened and how we can keep that awful trend out of the Magnolia State.

The annual report had other bright spots for Mississippi. The state lead the nation in a measure that tracks improved mobility of home health patients.

Mississippi scored in the top 10 with only 15 percent diabetic adults between 18 and 64 going without an Ale test, which tracks blood sugar levels.

Mississippi improved significantly on the measure of mentally ill adults who received no care. Between 2009-11,67 percent of adults with any mental illness did not receive any care. Between 2013-15, the percentage improved to 58 percent, within 2 percentage points of the national average.

While there are certainly further achievements left for Mississippians to reach in terms of health care, these few bright spots are encouraging and deserve greater attention by leaders for continued success down the road.

--Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

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Title Annotation:OTHER VIEWS
Publication:Mississippi Business Journal
Geographic Code:1U6MS
Date:May 11, 2018
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