April 22, 2019  

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Mississippi Health Summit Highlights Importance of Collaboration

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More than 160 people attended the first Mississippi Health Summit on April 29 at the Trent Lott Center. (Submitted photo)

Improved collaboration could well be the best possible cure for Mississippi’s health woes.

Such was the consensus of those assembled for the first Mississippi Health Summit held on April 29 at the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship on The University of Southern Mississippi campus.

Hosted and co-sponsored by the Southern Miss College of Health, the summit attracted more than 160 of the state’s top health care leaders to engage in discussions about upgrading Mississippi’s health.

Three panels (workforce, research and economic development) addressed possible ways to improve the state’s current health status, and all speakers concluded that working together represents the best way to use Mississippi’s resources.

“By bringing together so many individuals with influence over one or another facet of Mississippi’s health system, the summit underscored opportunities for collaborative synergy and identified some specific steps we can take to move forward,” said Dr. Mike Forster, dean of the College of Health at Southern Miss.

Summit topics ranged from obesity policy and smoking bans to the economic impact that health care has in the state. The event featured three breakout sessions where attendees worked together to explore ways to improve partnerships and use resources more efficiently. Although the participants gave Mississippi’s health a failing grade, they were optimistic about many of the state’s current programs.

“We all know Mississippi’s big problem, obesity, is driving an epidemic of diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and stroke among others in our state,” said keynote speaker Dr. Rick deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and host of Mississippi Public Radio’s Southern Remedy broadcast. “This will be our first generation that lives a shorter and lower quality of life than their parents. I think Mississippi’s bigger problem is who will lead us out of this quagmire.”

To ensure that the important conversation does not end with the summit, a report of the event will be compiled and released to the general public in the near future.

Also serving as co-sponsors of the Health Summit were The University of Mississippi Medical Center; Forrest General Hospital; the Mississippi Hospital Association and the Mississippi Public Health Association.

For more information about the College of Health at Southern Miss call 601.266.5253 or visit https://www.usm.edu/health.