It was a day of celebration on Tuesday, as Baltimore city recorded the lowest infant mortality rate for Black infants in the Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood, 94.3 percent of whom are Black.
Mayor Celebrates The Reduction In Mortality Rates Among Black Infants
Mayor Brandon M. Scott attributed this outcome to years of local investment, outreach, and education through the work of the B’more for Healthy Babies (BHB) program. In 2009, B’more for Healthy Babies was launched in the Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood to address the mortality rates.
The Mayor was joined by Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, the Health Commissioner for the announcement along with Dr. Bruce Jarrell, the President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Demaune Millard, Family League’s CEO, Traci Kodeck, CEO of Health Care Access Maryland, and representatives from CareFirst and the University of Maryland School of Social Work Promise Heights Initiative.
Significant racial disparities in healthcare have always been which was never discussed or addressed to make any changes. Even with the pandemic, the crisis hit the Black community with more mortality than the White community, which was never addressed to help the community. But now, with awareness and social changes, these disparities have been talked about.
In infant mortality between Black and white babies, the Black babies typically die between two to five times the rate of white babies.
“It is no secret that there’s a significant racial disparity in infant mortality with Black babies, but these are more than just statistics,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. The Mayor thanked the community partners for the work to help babies grow up to reach their full potential.
After 10 years of sustained investment, the infant mortality rate has dropped by 75% to 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births which is comparable to Baltimore’s overall white infant mortality rate of 4.4 in 2019.
Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa took this opportunity to thank the staff and partners for their collaboration and investments to improve the health outcomes. Dzirasa believes that the continued effort by BHB by promoting access to prenatal care and primary care services, helping pregnant women and Moms with postpartum & breastfeeding support groups, parenting Moms to be on prenatal education have helped a lot. BHB also engages in group-based programming, care coordination, and linkage to services. The extensive use of BHB communication campaigns and materials were all contributing factors to this success.
The funding from Carefirst Blue Cross, BlueShield, the Baltimore City Health Department, Family League of Baltimore City, the University of Maryland School of Social Work Promise Heights Initiative, Health Care Access Maryland, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine was appreciated by the Mayor and the Health Commissioner in the announcement released on Tuesday.
Stacey Stephens, Director of the B’more for Healthy Babies at Promise Heights, thanked the partners for their involvement and funding along with Dr. Bruce Jarrell, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, who applauded the work of the BHB partnership with others
CareFirst, a not-for-profit healthcare insurer, is one of the leading funders of the BHB partnership. Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, Vice President of Community Health and Social Impact, CareFirst, was also in a celebratory mood and proud of its significant investments in helping resolve long-standing racial inequities in infant and maternal mortality. He hoped this initiative should serve as a model for transformation in community health all over the US
The local management board for the city, Family League with its CEO Demaune Millard has worked amidst the pandemic to support the vulnerable communities and has supported more than 30 families in Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood through the ‘Healthy Family America’ (HFA) Home Visiting initiative even before they joined hands with BHB in its goal of sustained and serious decrease in infant fatalities in Baltimore City.
More information about BHB can be found at healthybabiesbaltimore.com.