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Initiative aimed at addressing health disparities in Berrien County

NOW: Initiative aimed at addressing health disparities in Berrien County

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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Local organizations are working on an initiative to solve health iniquities in Berrien County. 

“It’s something that definitely has to be addressed I think we just have to get the right people with the right resources and make people aware of it."

Population Health, which is a part of Lakeland Health in conjunction with the Berrien County Health Department and other local groups, are trying to solve health disparities.  

According to data compiled by Population Health, the death rate difference between black people and white people in Berrien County is 32.5%. 

The infant mortality rate among black people is 16 per 100,000 people compared to 5 per 100,000.  

Population Health Executive Director Lynn Todman says the health disparities are staggering.

“When I started at Lakeland Health three and a half years ago one of the first things I had to do was do a community health needs assessment, as part of that assessment we identified the neighborhoods that people were dying at really high rates and it became apparent that people living in and around Benton Harbor were dying at really rates at rates in some instances five times as great as people in other neighborhoods,” Todman said. 

According to Todman, the obesity rate is approximately 24% higher in black people than white people in the county and illnesses like Diabetes are occurring at a much higher rate as well. 

Todman says factors such as economic status, racial discrimination and access to quality health care are leading factors and the organizations organized a speaking series to spark ideas of how to solve the problem. 

The speaking series does not have a deadline on any particular issue but to work to solve each issue plaguing communities in the area to fix the problem of health inequities.  

Todman says this isn’t about placing blame but finding ways to achieve results. 

“This work is not about placing blame its not about pointing fingers its not about interpersonal reactions its about looking at the way our organization and institutions are structured and the policies and practices that they engage in and how they create disadvantages,” Todman said.  

Click here for more info on the initiatives history and goals. 

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