Athens, Ga. – While Georgia’s healthiest counties continue to flourish, poorer rural counties continue to struggle with higher obesity rates, less access to healthcare and diminished quality of life, according to a recent national study on county health. University of Georgia experts have been working in rural counties around the state to reverse these trends and are available to speak on their efforts.
The fifth annual County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report was released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
The report ranks the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states. It also allows counties to see how well they are doing on 29 factors that influence health including smoking, high school graduation rates, employment, physical activity and access to healthy foods. For information on individual counties in Georgia, see http://www.countyhealthrankings.org.
At UGA, the College of Public Health and Archway Partnership, a public service and outreach unit, have been working together to address specific public health needs of various counties throughout Georgia by making academic resources and students available to communities.
College of Public Health researchers and students, together with county-based Archway professionals, are active in a number of public health projects around the state, including a federally qualified health center in Clayton County, a healthy workforce initiative in Sumter County, childhood obesity prevention in Habersham County and an HIV/AIDS needs assessments in northeast Georgia.
“The model of close cooperation between communities and higher education with a mechanism for implementation is starting to pay dividends across Georgia communities,” said Archway Partnership director Mel Garber.
The county health rankings for Colquitt County, one of the CPH-Archway’s first community partners, illustrate the success of UGA’s community-based health initiatives. The county moved up from 88th to 69th in the state for its health outcomes and from 115th to 85th in health factors. Health outcomes represent how healthy a county is while health factors represent what influences the health of the county.
“The college, along with Archway Partnership, has worked together with the community on health promotion programs and policy changes as well as addressing social determinants of health, such as improved high school graduation rates,” said Marsha Davis, associate dean for outreach and engagement in the College of Public Health.
The UGA College of Public Health and Archway Partnership experts available to comment on the County Health Rankings are listed below:
Associate dean of outreach and engagement
Associate professor, department of health promotion and behavior
College of Public Health
Archway Partnership, a public service and outreach unit at UGA