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Community Health Assessment Finds Racial Disparities in Boone County

Last week the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services released their 2018 Community Health Assessment. The assessment found larger amounts of racial disparities exist in the county when it comes to health care and wealth.

The study revealed white Boone County residents make about $53,000 a year, while black residents make only $30,000.

Education is one of the largest factors behind the gap. Black residents have the lowest four year graduation rates from 2013 to 2017, and are nearly 10 percent behind white residents.

The Department Public of Public Health and Human Services has four action teams to address these issues. These action teams address four different issues: healthy and affordable housing, mental health, basic needs and medical/dental. Their progress will be tracked yearly for the next four to five years.

Senior Planner for the Public Health and Human Services Department, Jason Wilcox says the action teams’ goal is to get out in the community and help.

“That’s really what we are looking at with these action teams,” Wilcox said. “Is what measurable changes they can make in the community that might influence these larger disparities like education, health access and things like that.”

The study showed the infant mortality rate in black residents is three times higher than white residents. It also reveals that black residents visit the emergency room for every single chronic disease more than any other race.

MU professor of History and Black Studies Devin Fergus says this issue is widespread.

“Oh no, absolutely there is definitely a wage gap that exists around the country,” Fergus said. “So it’s not something that’s simply exclusive to Boone County in Missouri, or something like that, but it’s certainly common throughout the nation.”

Fergus also notes the importance of reporting inequality of wage and health services as well as wealth.

“Wealth is basically what you owe versus what you own,” Fergus said. “Even in history when there is an enclosing of the income gaps between blacks and whites or women and men, the wealth gap still grows.”