By Stacey Cunningham, MSW, MPH
Associate Director, Women's & Infant Health
AMCHP’s Monday morning plenary – “Preconception Care: Identifying New Opportunities to Improve Women’s and Children’s Health” promises to be exciting! We are thrilled to have Tonya Lewis Lee and Dr. Maxine Hayes as our speakers for this session. They will share national and state perspectives on preconception health and health care, as well as an update on federal initiatives that are promoting preconception care. You won’t want to miss it!
AMCHP asked Dr. Maxine Hayes, State Health Officer for Washington State to give our members a little insight into what they can expect from the plenary and why she feels this is such an important issue. Here is what Dr. Hayes had to say:
Q: Why is it important for AMCHP to host a plenary focusing specifically on Preconception Health and Health Care?
We cannot improve our infant mortality statistics without first improving the health of families - moms/dads prior to conception. Conference attendees can expect a call to fully embrace a women’s health agenda using the lifespan approach and the social determinants of health.
Q: In your point of view, why is it important to address Preconception Health from a national perspective? How do we get the general public more involved with this issue (i.e. via knowledge, spreading the word, etc)?
I prefer to address preconception health rather than preconception care from a national perspective. We need it from a national women’s health agenda, but we also need performance measures on women's health. Currently the infrastructure for women's health is fragmented federally and spread out within many places in DHHS. A cohesive infrastructure would help.
Q: Are there are any new or innovative strategies around Preconception Health that you would like to share with Pulse readers?
We should focus a laser on all women of child bearing age. MCH needs to work across all public health programs and collaborate with others to address the needs of women of child bearing age. For example, reach out to chronic disease, health promotion and disease prevention programs, school health, adolescent health, as well as using the social determinants ecological framework.
Healthy Baby Begins With You Campaign
In May 2007, the Office of Minority Health launched A Healthy Baby Begins with You - a national campaign to raise awareness about infant mortality with an emphasis on the African American community - as one of its efforts to end health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. Tonya Lewis Lee is the official spokesperson and will be a speaker at AMCHP’s Annual Conference.