Check out the full report
By ANGELA WARD
Thursday, January 08, 2009
A new report ranks Texas at or near the bottom in several key indicators of children's health.
However, Gregg County Health Department Director Dr. Lewis Browne said he believes local availability of health care services is generally high.
"We've got pretty good access to medical services here," Browne said. "There are clinics that offer prenatal services based on income and free vaccinations to all county residents."
Browne said he thinks one of the reasons Texas consistently rates so poorly in national children's health survey is primarily because of the conditions in the southernmost parts of the state. In that region, a shortage of physicians combines with language barriers and economic problems to cause a lack of access to necessary medical care.
"Some women are simply unaware of what services are available when they're pregnant," Browne said. "In other cases, they just don't put a priority on prenatal care."
One thing that has increased the access to health care in Gregg County within recent years has been the addition of public transportation within Longview, he said. Before the beginning of the bus system in 2003, lack of transportation caused many families to be unable to take advantage of available health care options.
The report, compiled by Texans Care for Children, said children in Texas are more likely than children in any other state to go without health insurance, become pregnant as teens and grow up to enter the correctional system.
Christine Sinatra, communications director for the organization, said she hopes the report leads to state lawmakers increasing their investment in services that benefit children. The report focuses on a large number of factors that affect the overall well-being of children; not just health care issues, but also education and poverty levels.
"We haven't invested in our children the way we should, and that shows up in a number of factors, from infant mortality to the high school drop out rate," Sinatra said.
Texas has slipped from ninth to 21st in infant survival rates in the past five years, she said. However, Texas has advanced from 50th to 22nd nationally in immunizations.
On the Net: See the full report at www.texanscareforchildren.org/