This month, the “Take Charge of Your Health Today” page focuses on maternal and infant mortality. Erricka Hager, health advocate at the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, spoke about this topic with Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.
EH: Good afternoon, Ms. Bush. When I heard that we’d be covering maternal and infant mortality this month, I knew that we’d be talking about a topic that is critical for the communities we serve.
EB: You are so right, Erricka. African American mothers and their babies are dying at an alarming rate. I’m not sure if anyone is paying attention. Some might think that this topic is important only for Black women who are having babies. But this is important to everyone—especially African American women—because health starts in the womb. The development of a child is influenced by the mother’s health during pregnancy.
EH: That’s important to mention because, again and again, the numbers show that African American women experience higher rates of both maternal and infant mortality here in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American mothers in the United States die at three to four times the rate of white mothers—one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health. Researchers like Dr. Krishnamurti are listening and realize that this is a public health crisis that is affecting both families and communities. Yet, are we doing enough to ensure that we are educating and reaching the communities we serve?
EH: I think so, too. I was also heartened when Gov. Tom Wolf demonstrated his concern for the increase in maternal mortality rates. The creation of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee indicates some leaders are beginning to listen and want to improve the health of Pennsylvanian mothers. I also encourage our readers to connect with the Infant Mortality Collaborative at the Allegheny County Health Department to not only lend their voices and support but to share their experiences as well. Participating in initiatives like the ones listed on this page will help health care professionals to better understand the experiences of African American women. This will help prevent more African American women and children from dying.
EB: I second that. Thanks for having this chat with me, Erricka. We’ve provided some great information and ways that readers can take charge of their health today. I look forward to chatting with you next year as we dispel myths about immunizations.