(KCPW News) The Utah Department of Health is putting a spotlight on health disparities in geography and income, in addition to its current focus on racial and ethnic minority health. In response to a Utah law passed this year, the Center for Multicultural Health has been replaced by the Office of Health Disparities Reduction, which broadens its mission. Health Program Specialist April Young Bennett says it’s just beginning to look at the different kinds of disparities that exist in the state.
“We know that people with low incomes have worse health outcomes in virtually every way,” she says. “Also in our state, there’s different places that are more healthy than others. In our rural areas, we see a lot of places that have poor health outcomes, and also even within our urban areas of the state, there are certain neighborhoods that have worse health outcomes than others.”
Dulce Díez will manage the new office. Bennett says she was promoted from her position within the Center for Multicultural Health, which she held for five years.
“She is really interested in looking at where are the health problems and finding different ways that we can address those regardless of whether they’re racial and ethnic disparities or if they are other kinds of disparities,” says Bennett. “So right now we’re focusing on getting data about these different disparities and about making that data known to our partners.
A United Health Foundation study ranked Utah 44th in the geographic disparity category, which measures variations in death rates from one county to another. The state also struggles with a shortage of primary care physicians and low public health funding.
How do you feel about this topic?
Is there anything else you think we should know? We'd like to hear your thoughts. Send us your feedback using the form below.