Operation: Black Belt launches Tuesday

Published 3:05 pm Monday, April 30, 2012

HAYNEVILLE – Five thousand families in Alabama’’s Black Belt will receive free medical and dental care, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced Monday.

The health care initiative named Operation: “Alabama Black Belt 2012” and led by military reservists, will operate for the next two weeks.

This initiative is a premiere world-class field training event for military forces and provides significant to the residents of the medically under-served and economically depressed communities of Selma, Demopolis, and Hayneville.

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The Demopolis site will be the old New Era Cap building and will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through May 10.

“This initiative honors the strength and determination of Alabama families who want to improve their health and their lives,” Masingill said. “Not only are we continuing our commitment to these families, but we are providing a major shot in the arm to the region’s health.””

“These health screenings will provide a valuable service for the people of this state,”” Bentley added. ““The work of the Delta Regional Authority and medical personnel from the Armed Forces will improve the quality-of-life for people of all ages. The services they provide in the coming weeks will make a lasting difference in the lives of people across the Black Belt Region.””

The Delta region, including the Alabama Black Belt, consistently suffers from poor health outcomes. Compared with national rates, deaths in the Delta region from circulatory diseases are 16=percent higher and deaths from cancer are 12-percent higher. Between 2002 and 2006, infant mortality rates in the Delta region were almost 41-percent higher than non-Delta counties.

The Delta Regional Authority is congressionally mandated to identify and provide investment to help create jobs, build communities and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta.

In the past three years through a partnership with the Department of Defense, more than 7,000 Delta residents have received free medical and dental care.