State of County report lists health priorities, top five causes of death

Jan. 24, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

Heart disease and cancer are the most likely ways Lee County residents will die, according to a recently released report.

The top five leading causes of death in the area during 2010 were released this week in Lee County's 2012 State of the County Health Report, an annual checkup on the residents' physical and mental well-being with recent data provided by the state. 

The report also lists the county's health priorities for the coming year, what work has been done in recent months and how the community can get involved, said Lee County Health Education Supervisor Sandra Boyd. 

"We want people to be aware of what our priority areas are and that we can provide education," she said. "We are always available to collaborate for education and prevention."

The county is mandated to assess county health every four years, and it releases the state of the county health report during years when a full assessment is not required, she said. Lee County completed its County Health Report in 2010 and obesity, sexually transmitted infections, teen pregnancy and access to mental health care and dental health care were listed as the county's five health priorities.

"After the County Health Report, you appoint a task force or subcommittee to work throughout the years on each of the priorities," Boyd said. "In the state of the county, we let people know how we've done."

With regard to obesity, a direct correlation can be seen in the top causes of death in the county, she said. The Lee County Public Health Department has worked with local law enforcement to make areas safer so children feel safer playing outside, and the county intends to create a DVD encouraging exercise through a partnership with the Lee County Schools, Boyd said. 

The county is also increasing access to mental and dental health care, she said, and while Lee County is ranked high for teen pregnancy, the numbers are going down. 

Cases of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS and syphilis have decreased in the county in recent years, but cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia have increased since 2008. In 2011, there were 275 cases of chlamydia, jumping up from 182 cases in 2008. 

"We can't say with certainty why they are more prevalent in Lee County," Boyd said. "But in terms of education, we are doing as much as we can. Our target audience is in the schools, and we are working with teachers and educators where there are young people."

Educating Lee County residents on health concerns and encouraging prevention are the top priorities for the department and the desired result from the health report, she said.

"It really is the number-one goal ... ," she said. "Education and prevention, I can't stress it enough."

A full copy of the report is available at the Lee County Government Center, located at 106 Hillcrest Road, or online at www.leecountync.gov.