America’s Most Distressed Areas and Their Neglected Infections: The United States Gulf Coast and the District of Columbia

The neglected infections of poverty represent the latest threat to the poorest people living on the Gulf Coast of the United States and in Washington, District of Columbia.

Together, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the BP oil disaster have shed light on a tragic level of poverty in the northern Gulf of Mexico, especially for the African Americans living in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University, more than 40% of black children in each of these states currently live in poor families, and over 12% of children from Louisiana and Mississippi live in extreme poverty, defined as families with incomes that are less than half of the federal poverty level Overall, the 12 million people living in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama suffer from the lowest incomes and educational attainment, as well as the shortest life expectancy, compared to anywhere else in the United States The finding that combined these Gulf Coast states have the nation’s lowest human development index scores has prompted a call by the American Human Development Project to launch a Marshall Plan for the Gulf, referring to a comprehensive reconstruction plan that resembles US efforts to reconstruct Europe in the devastation that followed World War II.

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