Black Maternal Health Week is observed in April

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By The Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health | April 8, 2024

Jackson, MS – The Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health and the NAACP-MS will observe Black Maternal Health Week April 11-17. This observance is designed to raise awareness regarding the disparities in Black maternal health care. The 2024 theme is Our Bodies STILL Belong to Us:  Reproductive Justice NOW! 

Through social media campaigns, advocacy activities, and virtual discussions, the Institute and the NAACP-MS will address systemic issues and advocate for policies and initiatives that promote equitable pregnancy outcomes and reduce racial disparities in Black maternal healthcare. Black Maternal Health Week is the perfect time to demand and support the expansion of Medicaid, improve access to care for Black mothers/birthing people, and provide guidance to providers, institutions, and insurance companies regarding equitable, high-quality, patient-centered care.  

Despite income or education level, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. Multiple factors contribute to these disparities, such as variations in quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism, and implicit bias.

Black women in Mississippi are disproportionately impacted by maternal mortality and morbidity. The Mississippi Maternal Mortality Review Committee found that Black, non‐Hispanic women have a pregnancy-related mortality rate four times higher than White, non‐Hispanic women. Improving maternal care in Mississippi will require a multifaceted approach.  Steps to reduce these disparities include:

  • Access to Quality Prenatal Care: Increase access to prenatal care for Black women in Mississippi, particularly in underserved areas. This can involve initiatives such as mobile clinics, telemedicine services, and community health centers.
  • Education and Outreach Programs: Implement education and outreach programs aimed at raising awareness about the importance of prenatal care, maternal health issues, and available resources. Targeted outreach efforts should focus on communities with high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity.
  • Cultural Competency Training: Provide cultural competency training for healthcare providers to better understand the unique needs and experiences of Black women. This includes addressing implicit biases and discrimination within the healthcare system.
  • Addressing Socioeconomic Factors: Implement policies and programs to address socioeconomic factors that contribute to disparities in maternal health outcomes, such as poverty, lack of health insurance, and food insecurity. 
  • Collaboration and Partnerships: Foster collaboration and partnerships between healthcare providers, community organizations, government agencies, and other stakeholders to implement comprehensive solutions and ensure that resources are effectively allocated.

Through community baby showers and advocacy efforts with various partners, the Institute and NAACP-MS are fully invested in reducing Black maternal disparities in Mississippi. Black Maternal Health Week was founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to bring awareness to the health disparities Black mothers face and the need to improve Black maternal health. The week was officially recognized by the White House on April 13, 2021. 

For more information regarding Maternal Child Health programs, visit www.minority-institute.org. 

Photo captions: 

Photo 1: During the Jackson, MS water crisis, the Institute for the Advancement of Minority supported mothers by providing diapers and formula to local daycare centers

Photo 2:  The Institute provides various baby care items to new and expectant mothers throughout the State of Mississippi. 

Photo 3:  New mother Bianca Patton (left) attended the Institute’s drive-thru community baby shower.  Patton received a pack and play from Asia McCoy (right). 

Media Contacts: 

Dr. Sandra Melvin

iamh@advancingminorityhealth.org

(769) 572-5263

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The Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health was established in 2019 to reduce health disparities among disadvantaged and underserved minority populations in Mississippi through the development of collaborative partnerships with community stakeholders and the implementation of evidence-based public health interventions with a particular focus on health equity.  

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