The mission of Allegheny County’s Maternal and Child Health Department is to begin developing a ‘health equity lens’ for every provider in Allegheny County that has services targeting women and families. Despite the past decade of improvement in the overall IMR, the racial disparity remains significant. Our recent Allegheny County study revealed that white IMR is 4.75, while the black IMR is 13.73, with the difference being primarily due to pre-term birth. As a recent US News and World Report article concluded, “It’s difficult to isolate one factor as the cause of lower birth weight and higher infant mortality among black babies – many correlating factors contribute to a perfect storm.” We propose to advance awareness of institutional and structural racism as the primary driver for infant mortality. This work will be done in conjunction the Infant Mortality Strategic Planning Committee (IMSPC). The committee was formed in November 2012 to create a powerful coalition of community perspectives and county resources to address the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) disparity, particularly considering recent research about the role of trauma and whole life experiences in birth outcomes.
Considering this complex problem, the IMSPC exists to mobilize the community to create systemic change that reduces these deaths by addressing the several factors at play, especially racial inequities. Our group aims to be a cross section of the community representing the various life stages – parenting, perinatal care, reproductive health, school, faith, transportation, police, economic growth, human services working together toward meaningful change in all the sectors of our county to give every baby born in Allegheny County a chance to celebrate their first birthday. Our goal is that by collaborating we can make incremental changes that will shift the culture, the environment, the systems, the policies and ultimately, health inequities.