The annual County Health Rankings for Alabama provide a snapshot of the broad factors that influence the health of a community. They also illustrate the need for improved alignment and coordination among government, non-profit organizations, school districts and businesses in order to bring about long-term, sustainable improvements in health at the regional and neighborhood levels.
Based on the recently released 2021 County Health Rankings, Central Alabama continues to face familiar health challenges. The rankings highlight the need for improvement in specific services, such as mental health, maternal and child health and health education, and suggest greater regional alignment and coordination around these issues.
The rankings take a comprehensive look at the many factors that influence the health of a community. They include traditional public health data, such as tobacco use and physical activity rates, as well as social and environmental factors, such as education, employment and stable housing. The report is released annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI).
So Where Do Our Six Counties in Central Alabama Stand?
Jefferson County ranks 20th in overall health outcomes, which includes data related to premature death and low birthweight. St. Clair County ranks 12th, Chilton County ranks 18th, Blount County ranks 23rd and Walker County ranks 62nd.
Shelby County remained in the #1 spot as the healthiest county in Alabama.
The Bold Goals Coalition, 200 area organizations working together to solve big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas, uses the rankings as it aims to move all Central Alabama counties into the top 10 healthiest counties in the state by 2025.
While the 2021 rankings do not measure COVID-19 cases or deaths, the data is helpful in providing context for systemic inequities that have influenced the health of communities before and during the pandemic. These gaps highlight areas that need to be addressed to promote a fair, inclusive and equitable recovery from the pandemic. The Bold Goals Coalition is working in collaboration with the Jefferson County and Walker County Health Action Partnerships to lessen, and ultimately eliminate, health disparities in our region.