The entire report can be downloaded as a pdf file or viewed in sections on-line. This is the 17th year of this particular report.

New Mexico’s health ranking slipped from 38th to 40th in the nation based on a broad range of indicators, such as occupational fatalities, immunization coverage and high-school graduation rates, according to a report released Tuesday.

This year, America’s Health Rankings includes a state-level analysis of the quality and cost effectiveness of medical care. It shows the quality of medical care and the cost of that care vary widely among the states — and that providing more services does not necessarily lead to better-quality care.

ALASKA Snapshot from “America’s Health Rankings™ 2006”

Overall Rank: 31

Change: down 1

Strengths:
* High per capita public health spending
* Low percentage of children in poverty
* Low rate of cardiovascular deaths

Challenges:
* Limited access to adequate prenatal care
* Low immunization coverage
* High prevalence of smoking

Significant Changes:

-In the past year, the incidence of infectious disease decreased by 9%

-In the past year, the prevalence of obesity increased by 16%

-Since 1990, the infant mortality rate declined by 46%

-Since 1990, the violent crime rate increased by 39%

Ranking: Alaska is 31st this year, it was 30th in 2005.

Strengths:
Strengths include high per capita public health spending at $482 per person, a low percentage of children in poverty, at 12.1 percent of persons under age 18 and a low rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease at 263.1 deaths per 100,000 population.

Challenges:
Challenges include limited access to adequate prenatal care with 63.9 percent of pregnant women receiving adequate prenatal care, low immunization coverage with 75.4 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months receiving complete immunizations, a low high school graduation rate with 68.0 percent of incoming ninth graders who graduate within four years and a high prevalence of smoking at 24.9 percent of the population

Significant Changes:
↓ In the past year, the incidence of infectious disease decreased from 15.9 to 14.4 cases per 100,000 population.

In the past year, the prevalence of obesity increased from 23.6 percent to 27.4 percent of the population.

↓ Since 1990, the infant mortality rate declined from 10.6 to 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Since 1990, the violent crime rate increased from 455 to 632 offenses per 100,000 population.

Health Disparities:
In Alaska, the percentage of women who receive prenatal care varies from 71 percent among American Indians/Alaskan Natives to 84 percent among whites. Cancer is 69 percent more prevalent among whites (416.2 cases per 100,000 population) than Hispanics (246.4 cases per 100,000 population).

Clinical Care:
The cost of clinical care in Alaska is high compared to other states and the quality of care is low.

The methodology section is essential reading in order to make sense of any of these rankings reports.

Be sure to read which health components are included in the rankings. For example, one of the readers of the New Mexican newspaper points out that dental caries (tooth cavities) which is an infectious disease, was unlikely included in the infectious disease component (do you know why he thought this might be so?)

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