As a Black mother with two sons, and my colleague who is a Black mother of two daughters, and who suffered an infant loss at 27 weeks, we are deeply concerned about the recent breaking news from the CDC, which reports the largest increase in infant mortality rates in more than two decades. While the overall increase in infant mortality rates may not be significant, the disparity within the Black community is nothing short of alarming. Black infants are experiencing the highest rates of infant mortality, with nearly 11 deaths per 1,000 births – more than double the rate for White infants. This news serves as a stark reminder that systemic health disparities continue to plague our community, and it is time for us to act. In the face of this troubling report, we are faced with a crucial question; what do we do about it? Specifically, what can Black mothers and fathers do to navigate the complex healthcare system effectively and demand the quality care they deserve?
The African American Wellness Project (AAWP) is a trusted resource that empowers individuals to navigate the complex healthcare system effectively and demand the quality care they deserve. Our primary focus has been to equip individuals with the knowledge and tools they need to advocate for and protect their health and our organization serves as a megaphone for trusted information and vital resources that empower African Americans.
As we grapple with the CDC’s latest findings, there are critical actions that we, as a community, must take to confront these disparities head-on:
- Raise Awareness: It is essential to raise awareness about the alarming infant mortality rates among Black infants. We must engage in open and honest conversations within our communities, highlighting the disparities that continue to plague African American women and children regardless of socioeconomic or educational status.
- Provide Access to Reliable Information: Organizations such as the March of Dimes, and ours, AAWP, are committed to providing accessible and reliable information about effective ways to address the health of moms and children, healthcare options, and navigating the healthcare system. Visit such reliable guides and resources that can help you make informed decisions about your health.
- Advocate for Change: Empower yourself with knowledge and become an advocate for change. Join local and national initiatives that aim to address healthcare disparities, and let your voice be heard. Demand equal access to quality care for all, regardless of race or socio-economic status.
- Support Community Initiatives: Support organizations like AAWP that are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the African American community. Together, we can create a powerful force for change.
- Seek Prenatal and Postnatal Care: For expectant Black mothers, seeking prenatal care is crucial. Accessing proper medical guidance throughout pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of infant mortality. Postnatal care is equally important to ensure the health and well-being of both mother and child.
- Educate Healthcare Providers: Encourage healthcare providers to receive cultural competency training to better understand the unique needs and challenges faced by Black patients. Advocate for equitable healthcare practices and policies.
- Practice Radical Self-Care: Finally, we know life does not stop while pregnant, but reducing stress during pregnancy is critical for preventing complications for mom and baby. Be vigilant about implementing self-care. Reduce stress, cut back on nonessential activities, have a good support network, seek resources in the community or from your provider about ways to help, identify the source of your stress and take active steps to remove or lessen it.
Traditionally, the best sources of information on how to overcome health disparities have come from The National Institutes of Health and the Office of Minority Health, but AAWP has emerged as an effective way to promote health equity and yield better outcomes for people of color. Our website, aawellnessproject.org provides access, guides, and resources that can help you make informed decisions about your health. The CDC’s report is a sobering reminder that our work is far from over. The fact that infant mortality has increased after two decades should serve as a call to action. It is our responsibility to respond to these inequities in the healthcare system and ensure that every Black mother and child receives the quality care they deserve. The African American Wellness Project is committed to standing with our community to make meaningful change. Together, we can and must make a difference. Our children’s lives depend on it.