Health Care Problems Addressed by Longtime Leader in the Medical, Education Fields


Dr. Dan Jones delivers the address “2008 Presidential Campaign and Health Care” in the Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts to a crowd of more than 400, including many UM students planning to become pharmacists and other health care professionals. UM photo by Nathan Latil

OXFORD, Miss. – The country’s “broken health care system” has burdened
the economy and created a moral imperative to address health care

This challenge was issued today (Aug. 28) at the University of
Mississippi by Dr. Dan Jones, vice chancellor for health affairs, dean
of the School of Medicine and Herbert G. Langford Professor of Medicine
at the UM Medical School in Jackson.

“Our country is faced with substantial health care challenges. Those challenges are often described in economic terms,” said Jones, who delivered the address “2008 Presidential Campaign and Health Care” in the Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts to a crowd of more than 400, including many UM students planning to become pharmacists and other health care professionals.

“We spend almost twice as much as other industrialized countries per capita on health care, yet most of our quality measures lag behind other countries. This dilemma is creating a large negative economic impact on our country.”

At the root of the economic impact is a “moral imperative issue we need to change – health care disparities,” said Jones, immediate past president of the American Heart Association.

To drive home his point, Jones related two examples of how access to health insurance or the lack of proper coverage makes a difference:

A 74-year-old white male complains of chest discomfort. Someone calls 911. EMS transports him to a major hospital where he is diagnosed with a heart attack. The man is a physically active hypertensive, whose condition is well controlled with medication and a low-sodium diet. His elevated cholesterol, diagnosed at age 66, also has been controlled with medicine for the past eight years. He is treated with a stent and discharged home. His chances for complete recovery are good.

A 38-year-old black female collapses at home. She’s aphasic and can’t move her right arm or leg. Her daughter calls a relative, not 911, who rushes her to a local emergency room two hours after onset of symptoms. She is diagnosed with a stroke. She has been struggling with diabetes and hypertension since age 24 because she is rarely able to afford medications. She is hospitalized for two weeks and must later receive physical therapy to gain partial use of the right side of her body. Her chances for complete recovery are slim.

The male has insurance, and the female is among the more than 47 million Americans with no health insurance, Jones said.

Sadly, issues of health care disparities or health care inequities are truly a problem in Mississippi, where many people have poor health outcomes because of socio-economic status, race, education and geography, Jones continued.

In Mississippi, black women suffer the highest death rate of any group, he said.

“Differences in health outcomes are a complex issue. Access to health care, genetics, environment, behavior, social issues and political issues can all play a part, but we have a moral duty to meet this challenge and find a solution.

“What should be the role of medical professionals to the problem of health disparities?” Jones asked.

Challenging his audience, Jones said, “I believe the University of Mississippi family has an opportunity and a responsibility to address health care disparities, and the 2008 presidential campaign is the perfect platform.

“It is our duty to make progress toward eliminating health care disparities by working together to keep this issue a key priority, seek understanding and solutions through research, advocate for more research funding and better access to health care and focus more on prevention,” Jones said.

Barbara G. Wells, dean of UM School of Pharmacy, said she is not surprised by Jones’ challenge to the students.

“Dr. Jones is a man committed and devoted to continuous improvement of the health of Mississippians,” Wells said. “He is a champion for the health care needs of both adults and children throughout Mississippi and across the world. To leave the audience with a sense of responsibility to do their part to address this moral and ethical issue is no surprise, and I know our students are primed to meet his challenge.”

Jones’ address is among dozens of UM events planned to prepare students and local audiences for the first 2008 presidential debate, to be hosted at UM Sept. 26. A complete list of debate-related events and activities is available at