Mississippi Interim Health Officer Vows To Address Infant Mortality Rate, Health Disparities Among Blacks in State
Mississippi Interim State Health Officer Ed Thompson, who was appointed last week, has hired new staff and reorganized current health department workers in part to focus on health issues affecting blacks, including higher rates of infant mortality, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports (Mitchell, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 7/8). Thompson is a former state health officer and top official at CDC (AP/Natchez Democrat, 7/9).
According to the Clarion-Ledger, the state's infant mortality rate increased among minorities from 14.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1995 to 17 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 -- the highest rate in the nation and the worst in Mississippi since 1987.
In addition, the state has experienced a recent syphilis outbreak. The number of cases in 2007 are double the number of cases in 2006. Thompson said he plans to increase the number of lab workers and salaries. "We clearly don't have enough disease investigators to deal with the problem" of increasing syphilis cases, he said (Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 7/8).
The board anticipates choosing a permanent health officer within the next several months (AP/Natchez Democrat, 7/9).