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Health literacy program expands

TYLERTOWN and BILOXI — Three years after establishing a health information center inside the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is expanding its services to reach more people statewide with its Mississippi Health Literacy Network. The network establishes satellite health literacy resource centers in both Tylertown and Biloxi.

“Our plan is to share pertinent health information with vulnerable populations in rural areas, where disproportionate burden of chronic diseases, teenage pregnanc, and infant mortality exist,” says Stacey Scott, Health Literature Resource Initiative director.

Health professionals and consumers will have the opportunity to receive materials that are multi-lingual, culturally appropriate and easy to read. In addition, center workers will teach skills designed to evaluate health information resources, especially those found on the Internet.

The concept of a health literacy network derived from NIH’s partnership with the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation to open a health information center. That center, located near Center Stage of the Jackson Medical Mall, opened in Oct. 2006 after NIH representatives met with Jackson residents to discuss how people in the area viewed participating in NIH research studies. The center features health information materials from many of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers and includes information on vision, health, center, heart disease, dental care, diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and many other health topics.

The Mississippi Health Literacy Network was made possible through a grant with the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Mississippi Institute for the Improvement of Geographical Minority Health in an effort to eliminate health disparities and with support from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Jackson State University is also supporting the network by providing student interns to work in the Jackson Medical Mall branch.

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