Assessment shows racial and social disparities in Columbia and Boone County

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COLUMBIA - Columbia and Boone County are seeing racial and socieconomic disparities in income, education and health and community resources, according to a new assessment by the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The 2018 Community Health Assessment found differences in kindergarten readiness, graduation rates, affordable housing access and more depending on where people live.

It also found disparities in the birth rate among black and white teenager, and in rates of prostrate cancer in men, with black men dying at a rate of three times higher than white men.

Overall, the report said, Boone County is a healthy community with well-educated residents, a stable economy, and many health and community resources.

The lengthy assessment has been in the works since 2013. It asked the questions “how healthy is the community?” and “what does the health status of the community look like?”

”We use the community health assessment internally in the department to write grants. Our partners will  have something to reference for their funding opportunities," said the department's senior planner, Jason Wilcox. 

The data itself came from sources such as the U.S. Census, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more. 

Wilcox said that combination of data is unique.

The department's director, Stephanie Browning, said, "Producing this document creates an opportunity for us to deliver better public health by using hard data and hearing from the community we serve to learn what their needs and priorities are." 

The next phase is the community health improvement plan. Action teams will focus on four strategic issue areas and give an annual report of improvements.