Governor Branstad will sign a proclamation today designating November 15 as Rural Health Day 2012. National Rural Health Day is an opportunity to honor small towns, farming communities and rural areas, and also to highlight the unique challenges the individuals who live in these areas face. In Iowa, 90 percent of the land mass is considered rural, and approximately half of Iowans live in an area that is considered rural.
“Iowa’s rural communities are wonderful places to live and work - they are places where people know each other, listen to and respect each other, and work together to benefit the community,” said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks. “However, rural communities face a lack of healthcare providers, an aging population with a greater number of chronic conditions, and larger percentages of uninsured or underinsured residents. It’s important that private and public partnerships continue to tackle these issues while meeting the unique needs of these areas.”
About 21 percent of Americans live in rural areas, but only about 10 percent of all physicians and 11 percent of all pharmacists practice in rural areas. The Iowa rural health workforce reflects much of the national trend; however, in Iowa there are 19.5 physicians per 10,000 persons compared to 25.7 per 10,000 in the U.S.
IDPH recognizes that rural healthcare needs can’t be addressed through a “one size fits all” approach. Because each community is different, programs and policies must be flexible enough to enable rural communities to identify and address the unique needs of their residents. To get more information on National Rural Health Day, visit http://celebratepowerofrural.org.To learn about the Iowa Rural Health Association, and how IDPH helps rural communities identify and resolve issues and build rural health infrastructure, see www.iaruralhealth.org/ .