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For Immediate Release:
July 20, 2000
For more information contact:
Maria Iacobo
213/240-8144 or 213/990-7107/pager

County Health Department Report Identifies Health Determinants, Opportunities for Action

LOS ANGELES - A report assessing the health of Los Angeles County residents and outlining the factors that influence health is being released today by the Department of Health Services. The report, The Health of Angelenos, outlines the behavioral and social factors that influence health, highlights disparities in health outcomes between racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups, and among vulnerable groups such as children, adolescents and seniors.

"This report provides a comprehensive assessment of our County's health status that will be used by both public and private organizations to help define health-related priorities and formulate new or revised policies and programs," said Mark Finucane, Director, Department of Health Services. "The findings in this report will help us meet our goal of improving the health of residents of Los Angeles County."

The report describes health status, health risks, medical care access and the broader health determinants such as poverty and income disparities, social status and social support and environmental conditions.

"Reducing and eliminating the significant health disparities between racial and ethnic groups in our County is among the department's highest priorities," said Jonathan E. Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health and County Health Officer. "This tool will engage community members, public and private organizations and government officials to recognize and find solutions for our common health problems."

Data highlights include:

· Thirty percent of Latinos, 27 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders, 18 percent of African Americans, and 12 percent of whites consider their health to be fair or poor;

· Half of all Angelenos are overweight;

· 18 percent of adults smoke cigarettes;

· Heart disease mortality for African Americans (213.1 per 100,000) in the County is nearly twice as high as that of whites (128.3) and three times that of Latinos (73.8);

· The County had over 162,000 live births in 1997, which was 31 percent of all live births in the state of California that year. Medi-Cal paid for the prenatal care for the mothers of half of these births;

· Intentional injuries (e.g., homicide, suicide) account for 54 percent of all injury deaths; the other 46 percent of injury deaths are the result of unintentional injuries (e.g., motor-vehicle crashes, poisonings, falls). This pattern is unlike other jurisdictions in the U.S. in that mortality from intentional injuries is higher than from unintentional injuries;

· The 1998 incidence of AIDS among African American men (101 per 100,000) was nearly three times that of Latino men (39) and white (34) men.

"This report demonstrates the extent of the department's commitment to assess and generate high-quality data," said Paul Simon, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Office of Health Assessment and Epidemiology.

"This data will be a resource to planning effective strategies to improve health and will allow us to monitor changes in health status over time as well as report our progress to residents."

The report will be distributed to community based organizations, public agencies, schools, social service providers, policy makers at the state and local level and academics.