One in 5 Americans live in rural America and face health disparities every day due to higher rates of poverty and less access to health care. They are likelier to die from chronic diseases and have experienced a dramatic rise in opioid addiction and suicide deaths over the past decade.
Recently, NIH hosted the inaugural rural health seminar in an effort to focus attention on health disparities prevalent in rural communities. In opening remarks, NCATS director Dr. Christopher Austin recollected the dearth of health care facilities in vast stretches of Alaska, where he served as a physician. “Rural Americans face health disparities that are rooted in racial, economic and geographic health workforce issues,” he said. “They experience higher rates of poverty and lack of health care access and are likelier than their urban counterparts to die from heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, addiction, suicide and substance overdose.”