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BPC’s Anand Parekh: Investment a prescription for Detroit’s health crisis

Detroit Free Press

Thursday, April 14, 2016

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Michigan has a public health problem. This is perhaps both a conservative diagnosis and, for many state residents, an obvious statement. Yet, too often, public health is significantly underfunded.

Flint’s lead-contaminated drinking water reinforces the importance of a functional public health infrastructure in safeguarding communities. But Flint is not the only city with public health challenges in Michigan.

Wayne County, the state’s most-populous county, ranked last out of Michigan’s 83 counties for both overall health outcomes and health factors in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 2016 County Health Rankings report. Included in Wayne County’s feeble public health ranking is Detroit, a resilient city consistently recording dismal public health marks even compared to the state’s statistics.

In 2015, Detroit’s:

  • Infant mortality rate was 13.6%, compared to 6.1% in Wayne County (excluding Detroit) and 6.8% in Michigan.
  • Obesity rate was 37%, compared to 31% in Michigan.
  • Diabetes rate was 14.6%, compared to 10.4% in Michigan.

In addition, 18% of Detroiters reported poor mental health on at least 14 of the past 30 days, compared to 12.6% in Michigan.