By Larissa Calancie, PhD
Center for Health Equity Research (CHER)
Department of Social Medicine, UNC School of Medicine
National MCH Workforce Development Center
Department of Maternal and Child Health, UNC School of Public Health
A health equity mandate
In 2016, the National Maternal and Child Health Workforce Development Center established a health equity team to more fully equip the maternal and child (MCH) workforce to meet the challenges inherent in a dynamic, unpredictable, and rapidly transforming environment. A well-trained MCH workforce is critical to meet the public health challenges of the future and improve health and equity outcomes among MCH populations. The Center makes health equity a strategic priority, recognizing that to achieve better health and better care, the public health workforce must address the root causes of poor health across the life course, including social, economic, and environmental factors that contribute to persistent inequalities in health and health care outcomes.
Health equity resources
The health equity team, including Ann Batdorf-Barnes, Atyya Chaudhry, Kristen Hassmiller Lich, Amy Mullenix, Sarah Verbiest, and Nevillene White, supports the Title V workforce and its partners by identifying relevant resources, developing tools, and offering technical assistance to state teams that are working directly with the center. The team collected and organized over 50 health equity resources, which are available on the MCH Navigator and will be periodically updated. The team is also working to create health equity tools that build workforce capacity. Its approach to creating tools is heavily influenced by the Foundational Practices for Health Equity Action and Learning Tool developed by the Region V Social Determinants of Health Team of the Infant Mortality Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Health equity tools in practice
The team is developing a facilitation guide for a group activity where participants begin to identify and discuss MCH systems that advantage and disadvantage specific groups of consumers. The group activity is designed to provide structure for a complex and sensitive conversation; groups are encouraged to continue thoughtful conversations about MCH systems and take actions to design systems that empower all consumers. The team plans to develop a tool to assist in identifying evidence-based strategies for reducing health disparities in MCH populations, and a tool for practitioners looking to lead health equity initiatives in their organizations.
Health equity support for Title V
The health equity team offers customized technical assistance to state teams that are working with the center. Technical assistance includes identifying and suggesting evidence-based approaches to promoting health equity; group problem solving; and providing resources for learning, group discussion, program planning, and evaluation. By providing resources, tools, and technical assistance to Title V practitioners, the health equity team aims to support the essential work of Title V to reduce health disparities and promote health among all women, children, and families.
Understanding racial and ethnic disparities in U.S. infant mortality rates, by M.F. MacDorman and T.J. Mathews. NCHS data brief no. 74, National Center for Health Statistics, 2011.
Fact Sheet: Medicaid and Children with Special Health Care Needs/Disabilities: An Overview, by B.A. Dworetzky. The Catalyst Center, 2013.
National Maternal and Child Health Workforce Development Center: http://mchwdc.unc.edu
MCH Navigator, Training Spotlight. Diversity and Health equity: www.mchnavigator.org/trainings/diversity-health-equity.php
Foundational Practices for Health Equity: A Learning and Action Tool for State Health Departments. Region V Social Determinants of Health Team of the Infant Mortality Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network, and the Health Resources and Services Administration, 2016: www.health.state.mn.us/divs/opi/healthequity/resources/coiin-hrsa-foundational.html