Mississippi Looks to Iran for Healthcare Ideas

In the latest edition of the AARP Bulletin, there is a fascinating article on how Mississippi is taking a close look at Iranian village health houses as a solution to bringing much needed healthcare resources to the rural areas of the Mississippi delta. This unlikely scenario came about due to a collaboration between pediatrician Dr. Aaron Shirley and a professor of behavioral and environmental health at Jackson State University, Dr. Mohammad Shahbazi, M.D. According to James Miller, a healthcare consultant from Oxford, Miss., "the health house system in Iran is like the German VW Beetle, it's simple and it works."

The system relies on "health houses" with personnel who have very basic training in medical, environmental and sanitation issues as the first line of medical help. From there, medical problems are triaged into a surprisingly sophisticated health care system with highly trained specialists but only as they are needed. What this means is that they are able to access and serve a huge rural population. For Mississippi this could be a harbinger to a new way of offering service to an under-served, rural population. That it comes from axis of evil Iran will be our little secret.

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