South Carolina has landed on the wrong end of another list this year.
The United Health Foundation released the 2015 America’s Health Rankings on Thursday. South Carolina ranked 42nd in the United States — the same spot it held in 2014.
Hawaii was named the healthiest state in the country. Louisiana ranked 50th. North Carolina showed the most improvement, jumping six spots this year to 31st.
The full report shows South Carolina particularly struggles with obesity, a lot of smokers and a high violent crime rate.
The state’s strengths include a low prevalence of excessive drinking and high immunization coverage among children.
America’s Health Rankings weighs 34 factors in calculating the list. Health care leaders in South Carolina have called it a valuable tool to measure the state’s progress.
“We can no longer tolerate these kinds of lower rankings. It’s time for us to take action together,” said Dr. Rick Foster, a S.C. Hospital Association vice president. “If we can get into the 30s, that’s a strong indicator that we’re doing something to make a difference.”
He thinks the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina can help. The Alliance, formerly called the S.C. Health Coordinating Council, was established four years ago to “take collective responsibility for the health of all in the state.”
Business leaders, public health experts, state officials and philanthropists have decided to focus on a few areas to move the needle in the right direction, Foster said. Those areas include infant health and mental health.
Babies die at a higher rate in South Carolina than infants in most other states and adults here report an average 4.2 poor mental health days each month — more days than adults report in all but six other states.
Ana Gallego is the Alliance’s program director. She said it may still take years to move South Carolina up in America’s Health Rankings.
“We’ve been in the bottom of rankings for decades,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a better opportunity or momentum to collaborate than we have now. We have to keep that going.”
Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.