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Durham Health Ranking Falls as Community Prepares to Discuss Health

Poverty, education, homelessness to be discussed at Friday’s Durham Health Summit

Post Date:03/21/2013 3:45 PM

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            Media Contact:  Eric Nickens, Jr.
March 21, 2013                                                        Information and Communications Manager 
                                                                              Office: (919) 560-7624 / Cell: (919) 309-6092 

DURHAM, NC – Knocked down, but still unrelenting and focused on turning Durham into a Community of Health.

That best describes the reaction of health officials on going from eighth to 17th healthiest amongst North Carolina counties in the latest report of County Health Rankings released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).

“The small decrease in ranking from previous years may be attributed to several things, including changes to the measures used to determine rankings,” said Erika Samoff, Public Health epidemiologist and coordinator for the Partnership for a Healthy Durham. “The decline in Durham’s ranking is based in part on an increase in the proportion of children in poverty occurring between 2008 and 2012, and consistently high unemployment during this period.”

While on the surface, the change in (or decline in) ranking appears to be dramatic, the difference between counties in the rank order is small. Since the inception of the County Health Rankings, Durham has consistently ranked in the top 25% of counties in North Carolina.

The County Health Rankings show that how long and how well people live depends on multiple factors beyond just their access to medical care. It examines 25 physical and social factors that affect health as well as health outcomes , including rates of childhood poverty, rates of smoking, obesity levels, teen birth rates, access to physicians and dentists, rates of high school graduation and college attendance, access to healthy foods, levels of physical inactivity, and percentages of children living in single parent households.

On Friday, March 22, community members and leaders will join local government and health officials to advance the progress and generate new solutions to address several key issues that impact overall health in Durham.

The 12th Annual Durham Health Summit, taking place at the Durham Convention Center, will include presentations and focused discussions on current work and new initiatives to address the social determinants of health - poverty, education, and specific issues related to homelessness.

Last year, over 400 people throughout Durham participated in the Durham Health Summit.

“Durham’s health community is ready to help address the growing health issues in Durham, but we can’t do it without the community’s input,” said Gayle B. Harris, Public Health director. “Together we stand, divided we fall.  Everyone has a stake in the future of Durham’s health.  Right now, it is time to take the City of Medicine to another level.”

The complete County Health Rankings report can be found at

For more information about the Partnership for a Healthy Durham or initiatives to improve Durham’s health, contact Partnership Coordinator Erika Samoff at 919-560-7833.

The 2012 State of the County Health report2011 Community Health Assessment and local health resource guides and links are available on the Partnership’s website,

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