Baptist Town, with its tumbledown clapboard shacks on the wrong side of
the tracks in Greenwood, Miss., seems an unlikely spot for any kind of
revolution, especially one inspired by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

But soon, that Mississippi neighborhood and others like it in the Deep
South may see some startling changes.

While political leaders in the United States and Iran are practicing
boisterous brinkmanship over nuclear proliferation, a small group of
health care professionals from both countries are quietly working
together to practice a new type of medicine, beginning in Mississippi, a
state that has been mired at the bottom of nearly every health index
for decades. Their primary focus is the storied Mississippi Delta. The
flat, hot, rural landscape that gave birth to the blues—the
quintessential American art form that put suffering to song—now suffers a
host of health woes, with some of the highest rates of diabetes,
obesity, hypertension and infant mortality in the nation.

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent over the last decade to
improve residents’ health there, the disparities between the Delta and
the rest of the state have only widened.

“I’ve been in and out of the Delta for 40 years and nothing much has
changed,” says Aaron Shirley, a 77-year-old pediatrician who pioneered
public health care in the Delta. “I was w... >>>

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