Members of the Eliza Pillars State Nursing Association and District 16 Mississippi Nurses Association kicked off a big project Saturday at the auditorium of EMEPA. They are trying to target health care disparities among minority groups. The nurses offered free health screening and education on certain health concerns.
Members of the Eliza Pillars Nursing Association are working hard to identify problems within health care throughout the state of Mississippi. This is a project members have been focusing on for the past year. Betty Cryer is the President of the Eliza Pillar State Nursing Association. She explains what areas of health care have become the association's priorities.
"One of our primary focuses has been four areas. We are dealing with the top four issues within the state of Mississippi. Obesity, diabetes, stroke, and hypertension," describes Betty Cryer.
And obesity is a major concern for Mississippians. For the sixth year in a row, Mississippi has had the highest rate of adult obesity - 33.8 percent - of any state in the Union. Mississippi women had a slightly higher rate at 34.9 percent. African Americans in the state had a much higher rate at 42.9 percent. With this in mind, members of the association want community members to take responsibility for their own health.
"We are trying to teach them the importance of wellness and taking self-control of your own illness."
Erica Clark is a member of the nursing association. She is one of the individuals trying to teach community members about their own health. Clark encourages everyone to educate themselves when it comes to any health matter.
"I'm here to do education for the people of our community to teach them about early detection, so that they will know their status and how to access proper health care," explains Erica Clark.
Heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S., cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes all are closely associated with obesity. Mississippi is a front runner in those diseases as well. For Melanie Anderson, another member of the nursing association, health awareness can help get these diseases in better control.
"It's important for nurses, such as myself, to come to seminars like this, first because as a nurse I took an oath; an oath to give back to my community. For one, I love to do service and this is one way of giving back. And what better way than to take ownership than to know about our own health," says Melanie Anderson.