County Health Rankings report shows progress and opportunities for Malheur County

Malheur County is ranked in the 2020 County Health Rankings, a set of annual reports published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The reports show how counties compare to other counties in their states in overall health, and how they stack up in performance on specific health factors against national benchmarks. The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

For nearly a decade, the County Health Rankings have shown that where we live makes a difference in how well and how long we live. This year, analyses show that meaningful health gaps persist not only by place but also by race and ethnicity. These health gaps are largely influenced by differences in opportunities that disproportionately affect people of color, such as access to quality education, jobs, and safe, affordable housing.

For 2020, Malheur County is ranked 30th for health outcomes of 35 participating counties across Oregon. Health outcomes include length of life and quality of life. Malheur County is ranked 33rd for health factors of 35 participating counties across Oregon. Health factors include health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

“We can’t be a healthy, thriving nation if we continue to leave entire communities and populations behind,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “Every community should use their County Health Rankings data, work together, and find solutions so that all babies, kids, and adults – regardless of their race or ethnicity – have the same opportunities to be healthy.”

This year’s Rankings explores important trends happening among the nation’s children and youth:

  • Teen Births: There are strong ties between poverty and births among teens. Teen birth rates have been declining across community types and racial groups for more than a decade, with most recent data showing a US rate of 27 per 1,000 females, ages 15-19. Hispanic teens have seen the most improvement in birth rates, falling from 77.7 to 31.9 births per 1,000 females– ages 15-19, from 2006 to 2016.  
    • In Malheur County, the teen birth rate continues to improve, with an average of 40 births per 1,000 females, aged 15-19, down from 46/1,000 last year. This is still significantly over the Oregon average of 18/1,000.
  • Children in Poverty: Poverty limits opportunities and increases the chance of poor health. Today, 1 in 5 children grow up in poverty. Available data show that, for the majority of U.S. counties, child poverty rates for American Indian/Alaskan Native, Black, or Hispanic children are higher than rates for White children, and these rates are often twice as high.
    • In Malheur County, the rate of children in poverty is 29%, nearly 1 in 3. The Oregon average is 16% of children live in poverty.

Additional areas for improvement include the rate of sexually transmitted infections (ranked 33rd of 35 counties), obesity (35% of adults in Malheur compared to 29% Oregon average), and severe housing problems (including lower than average home ownership).

For areas of strength, Malheur County exceeds the Oregon average of 77% high school graduation rate at 83%. While only 49% of our population receives some college (70% Oregon average), we can celebrate how many students graduate 12th grade. Violent crime, injury deaths, suicides, and firearm fatalities in Malheur County all rank less than the state averages.

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