Florida’s rural counties cover just over 40% of Florida’s land but contain 75% to 95% of the state’s highest percentages of Health Disparities such as Poverty, Infant Death Rates, Coronary Heart Disease deaths, Lung Cancer deaths, Diabetes, Obesity, and more. Premature loss of life, increased burden of preventable disease, and inadequate access to care among Rural Health Disparity populations continue to pervade our health care system.
The National Institute of Health has declared Health Disparities to be our Nation’s foremost and most persistent health challenge. Rural Health disparities has become such a critical issue in America that Healthy People, the National Institute of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Affordable Care Act have all mandated research activities, provisions, initiatives, and created detailed plans to study, address, and eliminate rural health disparities!
Rural Health disparities is such a recognized and critical issue in the state of Florida that the Florida Dept of Health has created a special Office of Rural Health to address and eliminate disparities. Other local state of Florida initiatives and activities are mandated by organizations such as the Florida Rural Health Association and Florida’s 9 Rural Health Networks. Each of these entities has established specific rural health research activities, provisions, initiatives, and created detailed evidence-based plans to study, address, and eliminate rural health disparities in our great state!
Addressing and eliminating Rural Health Disparities is a complex, multifaceted effort. Collaboration is the key and the Florida AHEC Network provides critically needed Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Programs across the state. Northeast Florida AHEC is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and improving the health of the underserved in our local rural communities through the implementation and coordination of the Rural Residency Program and the Rural Medical Scholars Program. Through these programs, Northeast Florida AHEC connects Medical Students and Health Care Professionals to Rural Internships and opportunities.
For more information contact Julie Seals, Rural Site Coordinator for Northeast Florida AHEC.