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UK, ARC, and CDC Announce Initiatives to Address Health Disparities in Eastern Kentucky

by Mallory Powell

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2014) -- University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto will join U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers and Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at a Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Health Impact Series to discuss the health challenges in the region and announce two new UK initiatives to address them.

The announcements will come during a symposium held at Hazard Community and Technical College, the second “Health Impact Series” event with the CDC as part of the SOAR initiative.

According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, this region has a greater prevalence for heart disease (84 percent higher), diabetes (47 percent higher) and obesity (26 percent higher) than the nation’s average. The state’s lung cancer mortality rates are the nation’s highest, at 67 percent above average.

The SOAR Health Impact Series involves a three-day tour of Eastern Kentucky that includes discussions about the region's high rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The tour includes stops in Somerset, Hazard, Paintsville and Morehead. Additional speakers include Dr. Stephanie Mayfield Gibson, commissioner of the Kentucky Cabinet for Public Health; Dr. Judith Monroe, deputy director of the CDC; Dr. Nikki Stone, SOAR health chair and additional health care professionals.

The SOAR initiative was launched by Gov. Steve Beshear and Congressman Rogers in late 2013, after a stunning downturn in the coal market exacerbated historic challenges in Eastern Kentucky related to unemployment and poverty. More than 1,700 Kentuckians attended a one-day SOAR summit in Pikeville in December. SOAR is intended to help the region develop and put into action new locally oriented strategies to attack persistent challenges. To learn more about the SOAR initiative, visit:

For more information about the announcements, please check after 12 p.m.