More than one million residents call rural South Carolina home. Preserving access to health care and improving health outcomes in our rural communities are critically important components to South Carolina’s vitality. The America’s Health Rankings, produced by the United Health Foundation, ranks South Carolina 44th in health among all states (2017). At the county level, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings show that our rural counties experience the worst health outcomes and factors in the state. Put simply, the unfortunate reality is if a person lives in a rural community, he or she is more likely to be sicker and die sooner than if he or she lives in an urban community.
Recently, there has been a heightened interest among policy makers, funders, partners, and most importantly, members of our rural communities in crafting a promising, sustainable, healthy future for rural South Carolina. To help leverage this interest and provide some direction to the conversation, the South Carolina Office of Rural Health, along with partners, stakeholders, friends, and neighbors from all across the state, are pleased to present our collective and comprehensive framework to enhance rural health outcomes: South Carolina’s Rural Health Action Plan (SC RHAP). The SC RHAP contains 5 areas of focus, 15 recommendations, and 50+ action steps, intended to spur progress over the next 3-5 years. Recommendations include measures for success and key stakeholders, as well as deeper dives on key topics or success stories.
Our rural communities abound with talented, energetic folks who strive to make life better for themselves and those around them. Connecting with the resources needed to make improvement will yield great things for our rural communities. With rural champions in the General Assembly, philanthropic community, and state government, the RHAP will serve as a spark for innovation and change.