CHARLESTON, W.V. (AP) - The interim founding dean of West Virginia University's School of Public Health urges state leaders to take what he calls deplorable health problems seriously.
Alan Ducatman also told the Rotary Club of Charleston that researchers should be encouraged to tackle tough and controversial issues.
West Virginia fares poorly in national rankings for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, tobacco use and prescription drug abuse.
The Charleston Gazette says WVU has piloted some initiatives to battle those problems, and Ducatman hopes to build on the efforts.
He says the state can't afford to trail the rest of the nation in health for the next 30 to 50 years.
He says it's time to catch up.
Lawmakers have allocated $1 million to help create the school. Accreditation could take several years.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)