Mississippi Office of Health Disparity Elimination
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)
Ernest Hargrove, Interim Director
Office of Health Disparity Elimination
Mississippi Department of Health
570 E.Woodrow Wilson Blvd.- Osborne 120
Jackson, Mississippi 39215-1700
Phone: (601) 576-7266
Fax: (601) 576-8215
Organizational Structure/History
There has been an increasing interest in the improvement of health status indicators in the United States as it applies to minority populations. The 1985 “Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health” noted numerous disparities in the health status of ethnic minorities.
The governor established the Minority Health Care Task Force in 1992 as a result of the findings presented in the 1990 “Report on Minority Health in Mississippi,” by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). The Task Force was organized to assess the health status of the racial and ethnic minority populations in the state of Mississippi. The report’s findings revealed that if certain risk factors were reduced, this would greatly decrease morbidity and mortality rates in minority communities. The identified risk factors are: smoking, inadequate nutrition, lack of early identification of diseases, lack of access to care health, lack of professional education for health providers, and the lack of funding for services and programs which directly benefit minorities. The Task Force studied the committees’ recommendations and set forth a number of recommendations that, if implemented, would greatly reduce the health disparities among racial and ethnic populations.
In December 1998, the State Health Officer authorized the formation of a steering committee to develop a structure for an Office of Minority Health within the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) and to implement the Task Force recommendations. As a result, activities under Minority Health were initiated in March 2000, however no funding was appropriated. Subsequently, in September of 2003, the State Health Officer established the Mississippi Office of Health Disparity Elimination (MS-OHDE).
Since its inception, the MS-OHDE has been committed to eliminating health disparities based on sound scientifically-based evidence that protects and promotes the health of all Mississippians.
Purpose/Mission Statement
The mission of the Mississippi Office of Health Disparity Elimination is to promote, assess and advance the health status of racial and ethnic minority residents in Mississippi.
Program Focus/Activities
In September of 2005, the MS-OHDE received two grants from the federal Office of Minority Health, Department of Health and Human Services. The first phase of the grant was designed to:
  • Coordinate Mississippi efforts to address identified health disparities to Hurricane Katrina evacuees;
  • Assess the cultural competency needs of Katrina evacuees with limited English proficiency;
  • Support and evaluate current service provisions to affected individuals.
 The second grant was a five year initiative entitled “The Magnolia Model: Mississippi State Partnership Grant Program to Improve Minority Health”. The Magnolia Model aims to reduce and eliminate disparities in Mississippi in the area of chronic disease and associated risk factors by strategizing to affect outcomes for:
            ▪Cancer                                                             ▪Infant Mortality
            ▪Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke                ▪Diabetes
            ▪Mental Health
The overall purpose of the Magnolia Model is to strengthen existing community and institutional capacity to address eliminating health disparities. The MS-OHDE will provide support to those groups with the development of statewide multicultural consortium, a health disparity plan, regional seminars, a statewide conference, and policy development.
In an effort to combat the disparities in cardiovascular disease, the MS-OHDE investigated racial disparities in cardiovascular mortality, behavioral risk, and certain disease knowledge issues. The study of racial disparities is of special importance to Mississippi because the state has the nation’s largest proportion of black citizens as well as some of the highest cardiovascular mortality rates.
Katrina Relief.
In 2005, the Office of Health Disparity Elimination organized the Katrina Relief Symposium. The MS-OHDE identified housing, stress management, and capacity building for faith based/community-based organizations as high focus priorities in facilitating rebuilding efforts on the coast and across the region. This symposium provides the latest information on existing tools to support workers in their effort to meet the immediate needs of the evacuees. In addition, the MS-OHDE provided Disaster Preparedness training, formulated a Survival manual and a Faith based training manual for communities throughout Mississippi. The manual will be available January 2008. http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/msdhsite/_static/44,0,236.html
Communities in Action
In order to empower communities and enhance the capacity of community-based organizations and faith-based organizations, the MS-OHDE created Communities in Action. This program, a series of workshops, will provide skills to local elected officials, faith based organizations, and interested citizens or groups on:
  • Organizational Capacity and Credibility;
  • Creating and Securing Funding;
  • Return on Investments;
  • Strategic Planning and Funds Management.  
Cultural Competency Training
The MS-OHDE is charged with training all levels of health department employees in cultural competency provided by the director of cultural competency of Morehouse School of Medicine. Addressing cultural competence is imperative.  More and more, health and human service providers must operate in cross-cultural contexts.  Proper preparation is necessary to effectively prevent, identify, and treat many health problems.
Hispanic Population
The MS-OHDE has contracted the a Latina to conduct a Hispanic needs assessment in the nine Public Health District. The need assessment will identify concerns of public health districts staff and the Latino communities.
Level of Funding Sources
            Year                 Federal                         State                           Private

FY 2005
FY 2006
FY 2007
FY 2008

The Mississippi Office of Health Disparity and Elimination is currently staffed by 1 director who oversees the activities of the Office, ensuring that the health and well-being of racial/ethnic minorities within the State are addressed; 1 project director; 3 MPH graduate interns; and a biostatics consultant.  
Recent Publications
An Assessment of Cardiovascular Health in Mississippi: A Focus on Racial Disparities in
Mortality, Behavioral Risk Factors, and Knowledge. (2006)
Health Improvement In The Lower Mississippi River Delta: Opportunities and Challenges (2008)
An assessment of Health Care of the Gulf Coast post Katrina – pending (2009)