Health Department Director Doctor Nicole Alexander-Scott has laid out a plan to improve Rhode Islanders’ health over the coming year. She described the plan to lawmakers Tuesday evening. One overarching priority is to reduce disparities across the state.
Some disparities are stark in Rhode Island: blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately affected by chronic disease. And Alexander-Scott points out the environmental factors that drive those differences: things like a lack of access to healthy food, housing, and education. Her recommendation is to continue the investment in “health equity zones.” That’s a grant program to help communities improve quality of life and access to health care.
Alexander-Scott acknowledged Rhode Island’s drug overdose death rate and pledged her department’s resources to track and tackle that problem, too. And she highlighted a new focus on data to track public health problems.
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