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Study shows Wisconsin has racial and geographical disparities related to health

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — An annual report ranking Wisconsin counties on key factors related to health shows the state continues to see racial and geographical disparities.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released the County Health Rankings report Wednesday, Wisconsin Public Radio reported . It measures factors that affect public health, such as access to health care, housing and employment.

"The child poverty rate in Wisconsin is 16 percent," said Sheri Johnson, director of the Population Health Institute. "But there's a wide range of child poverty from 5 to 41 percent. And that's both in rural and urban communities."

Poverty rates for white children in Wisconsin counties range from 5 to 20 percent, while poverty rates for Native American children are between 11 and 44 percent, she said.

"So there's a lot of opportunity to say, 'How do local communities look at their data and make sure that everyone in their community has opportunities to be healthy and unfair obstacles to health are removed?'" Johnson said.

The report ranked Ozaukee County at the top, while Menominee and Milwaukee counties were listed at the bottom.

The Menominee Nation has been working to improve the county's health, Johnson said.

"They've implemented trauma-informed school practices and have shown phenomenal increases in the high school graduation rate," she said. "They've looked at this issue of access to clinical care and decided to make changes in terms of how people are able to schedule appointments at the clinics."

Researchers hope the study's findings will be used to improve health outcomes for people across the state, Johnson said.

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