Jan 27, 2020 11:45 AM

KDHE: Low access to dentists, particularly in rural Kansas

Posted Jan 27, 2020 11:45 AM

KDHE

TOPEKA Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary Lee Norman, MD, recently delivered “2020: The State of the Health of Kansans” to the Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and the Kansas House Health and Human Services Committee. This is the first time KDHE has delivered such address to the Kansas Legislature.

“As the State Health Officer, it is my duty to look at the health of our state and provide education on what we as a state can do at an individual level, a community level and a government level,” said Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of KDHE. “Health isn’t just medical care. It’s our behaviors, our environment, our policies and our outcomes.”

Since 1990, Kansas has seen the greatest decline in its health rankings according to America’s Health Rankings published December 6, 2019.

  1. Behaviors - Kansas ranks #38 in the survey for obesity rates and #30 for smoking.
  2. Environment - Kansas ranks #21 in the U.S. for the number of children living in poverty. Kansas’ chlamydia numbers are twice the healthiest state, at 465 per 100,000.
  3. Policy - Kansas ranks #49 in U.S. for females receiving the HPV vaccine and #34 for males. Kansas ranks #32 for children 19-35 months receiving completed vaccines at 69 percent. Kansas ranks 40th for the amount of dollars in public health funding at $60/person. This is 4.5 times less than the top state at $281/per person.
  4. Medical Care - There is low access to dentists, particularly in rural Kansas. Kansas ranks #38 with 50 dentists per 100,000. Kansas also ranks #35 for mental health providers.
  5. Outcomes - Kansas ranks in the bottom half on cancer, cardiovascular and diabetes deaths; frequent mental distress; infant mortality; and premature deaths in years lost before age 75.

“What this data suggests is that Kansas needs to improve access to care – addressing the shortage of medical professionals, financial impediments and geographic maldistribution among others,” said Dr. Norman. “It suggests that we have unhealthy behaviors that need to be remedied and that there’s a need for active illness prevention and intervention.”

Dr. Norman continued, “Every Kansan can take steps to improve our state’s health – increase your physical activity, be mindful of proper nutrition and make sure your family is up-to-date on immunizations. It’s also critical that we as a state look beyond ourselves and our families, to our neighbors and community members. It’s time for us to intervene and invest in the health of Kansans.”