The Center for Rural Health at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health will join the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) in celebrating the first-ever National Rural Health Day on Thursday, November 17, 2011.
NOSORH created National Rural Health Day as a way to showcase rural America; increase awareness of rural health-related issues; and promote the efforts of NOSORH, State Offices of Rural Health and others in addressing those issues. Plans call for National Rural Health Day to become an annual celebration on the third Thursday of each November.
Events recognizing National Rural Health Day and “Celebrating the Power of Rural” are being planned throughout the nation. In Arizona, the Center for Rural Health is marking the occasion with the “I Support Rural Health” Photo Contest, by launching a new blog (crh.arizona.edu) and twitter account and hosting a university-wide rural health reception.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has also proclaimed November 17th as rural health day in the state. Her proclamation recognizes the unique role of healthcare in the rural setting and the importance of Arizona’s rural population.
More than 670,000 people (one in seven of the state’s population) live in rural Arizona (compared to approximately 62 million people – nearly one in five Americans living in rural and frontier communities throughout the United States.)
“Residents of rural communities in Arizona tend to cite a great sense of community spirit and a high quality of life. At the same time, reasonable access to healthcare services remains problematic. It is our hope that this day will draw attention to the challenges facing the delivery of healthcare services in rural America,” said Dr. Neil MacKinnon, professor of public health and director of the Center for Rural Health.
These communities also face unique healthcare needs. “The childhood poverty rate in suburban Arizona is 17%. In rural Arizona it is 33.8%. In fact, rural Arizona has the second highest childhood poverty rate among all 50 states, trailing only Mississippi,” said MacKinnon.
“A second challenge for healthcare in rural Arizona is developing and implementing the delivery of healthcare services which are tailored to the diversity of the state. From our 350-mile long shared border with Mexico to old mining towns to retirement communities to tribal nations, we are pleased that Governor Brewer has recognized the vital role of healthcare services to our rural communities,” said MacKinnon.
State Offices of Rural Health play a key role in addressing those needs. All 50 states maintain a State Office of Rural Health, each of which shares a similar mission: to foster relationships, disseminate information and provide technical assistance that improves access to and the quality of health care for its rural citizens. In Arizona, the state office of rural health is housed at the Center for Rural Health at the University of Arizona.
In the past year alone, State Offices of Rural Health collectively provided technical assistance to more than 28,000 rural communities. In Arizona for example, the Center for Rural Health supports rural citizens through programs such as recently facilitating an assessment of healthcare services and healthcare needs in Mohave County and Kingman, Arizona. The Center also works to recruit physicians and other healthcare professionals into the state and to assess the degree of shortage of these individuals in the state.
Additional information about National Rural Health Day can be found on the Web at www.celebratepowerofrural.org. To learn more about NOSORH, visit www.nosorh.org; to learn more about the Center for Rural Health visit www.crh.arizona.edu/.