Partnership to Eliminate Disparities in Infant Mortality

 Partnership to Eliminate Disparities in Infant Mortality 

By Jessica Hawkins, MPH, CHES
Program Manager, Women’s and Infant Health, AMCHP 

Brenda Thompson, MPH
Prevention Specialist
University of Nebraska Medical Center 

In 2008, CityMatCH, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), and the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) — with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation — created the Partnership to Eliminate Disparities in Infant Mortality. The purpose of the project is to eliminate racial inequities contributing to infant mortality within U.S. urban areas. The first activity of the partnership was an 18-month long Action Learning Collaborative (ALC). The emphasis of this team-based ALC was on innovative approaches to reducing racial inequities in infant mortality in urban communities, with particular attention paid to the impact of racism.  

The following six teams were selected through a competitive process to participate in the ALC: Los Angeles, CA; Aurora, CO; Pinellas County, FL; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH and Milwaukee, WI. The teams were composed of a traveling team of five to eight members who participated in on-site meetings of all ALC teams. In addition, each team had non-travel members, which included a diverse group of individuals within the state and community. Composition of the teams varied, with required members including the state Title V/MCH director, MCH leadership from the local health department and leadership from the local Healthy Start Program. 

Throughout the ALC, CityMatCH, AMCHP and NHSA provided the six teams with technical assistance including tools for action planning and evaluation, informational calls, and resources to assist in carrying out selected strategies. These components and the ALC process overall assisted teams in furthering their understanding of racism and its connections to birth outcomes. With this enhanced understanding, teams then identified strategies to pursue in their communities and states.  

ALC teams were encouraged to develop strategies related to any aspect of addressing racism and infant mortality that they thought was appropriate for their community and state. After realizing the importance of continuing their own education and training, most teams pursued strategies on two levels — the first involved on-going individual and team development and the second involved external activities such as community awareness events. Additional examples of team strategies include:

  • Developing a training toolkit for healthcare providers
  • Developing media campaign and “empowerment coaching” designed to promote the positive roles of African American males & fathers
  • Completing PPOR analysis to guide efforts
  • Making the business case for why this work is needed and develop a plan for involving business partners
  • Designing a website to provide info, resources and best practices relating to infant mortality and undoing racism 

In the fall of 2010, AMCHP, CityMatCH and NHSA will release a team profiles report intended to be a product for states and communities to use as they work to address racism and its impacts on infant mortality. The report will provide a snapshot of work conducted during the 18-month ALC. Efforts and strategies described, and resources provided in the report may be readily utilized in other communities throughout the United States and will hopefully spark ideas for additional ways to address racism and its impact on infant mortality.  

For more information contact, Jessica Hawkins or Brenda Thompson.