A new report reveals that Michigan’s urban and rural communities are trying to reduce infant mortality disparities since the infant mortality rate in the state is much higher for babies born to African American and Native American mothers compared to others.
According to Michigan Radio, there are new statistics that suggest nearly 1,000 babies born in Michigan won’t even make it to their first birthday. What has many health professionals worried is that the majority of these babies come from either African American or Native American families. That’s why there’s a new push to not only do something to help reduce these troubling statistics but to help the different communities that are in need. The state recently released a draft with new ideas and initiatives for its 2019-2022 Mother Infant Health & Equity Improvement Plan (MIHIEP).
Leseliey Welch, a senior public health lecturer at Wayne State University, is working to address the issue. Not only does she think it’s important to do something to help these mothers and babies in need but to start a dialogue as to why women from certain communities face such political and socioeconomic conditions.
Welch explained, “We know that we need to address the challenges — the larger challenges — that families are having. Whether it be around income levels and poverty, whether it is housing, whether it’s transportation access, those larger factors complicate how women are able to access the care that exists.”
For example, the infant mortality rate in Isabella County in central Michigan was 11.71 per 1,000 births just last year. It’s the highest in the state while nearby Wayne County had the highest number of infant deaths. Health experts believe that there might be a bias on the part of some of the health care providers that work in the hospitals and the quality of care that some of the different populations receive. In other words, there might be an implicit bias when a person of a certain background and belief system makes decisions and cares for other people.
Unfortunately, Welch adds that the current disparities in infant and maternal mortality boil down to one problem: racism, which impacts the resources and opportunities available to women of color. It’s been noted that Michigan has a target of reaching zero preventable infant deaths and zero health disparities, a goal that Welch believes is entirely attainable. Not only does health care need to improve, but economic opportunity, housing, pay equity, and affordable childcare are necessary in order for this to happen.