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KY Could Improve in Areas of Women's and Children’s Health

One bright spot in new health rankings shows that women and children in Kentucky are getting their regular wellness checkups. (Pixabay)
One bright spot in new health rankings shows that women and children in Kentucky are getting their regular wellness checkups. (Pixabay)
March 19, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A new report indicates there is much work to be done in Kentucky to improve health among women and children.

The national report, from United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings, ranks the Commonwealth 42nd compared to other states for women's and children's health - down eight spots from 2016.

Dr. Julie Daftari is chief medical officer for United Health Care in Kentucky, which released the findings. She explained some of the significant areas for improvement are related to self-care.

"We see that behaviors still drive a large portion of all outcomes," Daftari said. "In all women ages 18 to 44, there's a high rate of tobacco use, obesity, diabetes - and we've also seen a high level of drug deaths."

Since 2016, fatal drug overdoses in Kentucky have increased 27 percent for the 18-to-44 age group.

The report does include some strengths for the state. They include affordable child care, low prevalence of substance dependence or abuse among kids, and a high incidence of children and women getting their regular checkups from their doctors.

Daftari acknowledged that the health of all people is important, but said the data on women and children can help the health-care community better serve those specific needs.

"This report is the 'what,' and I don't know that we understand all of the 'whys,'" she said. "I think it's important that health-care providers and policymakers use this information to help the citizens of Kentucky really understand how to take better control of their health."

And she noted that the findings are not meant to be discouraging.

"Even though there has been a decline in the overall ranking, I don't want people to lose hope," she added. "Recognizing that there are some challenges and some struggles is beneficial, so that we can get back on the right track."

In the report, Kentucky also did well in the areas of health policy, ranking 17th for women and sixth for children. And the state received good scores in the categories of missed school days and high-school graduation rates.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY