Eliminating racial inequalities in birth outcomes

September 15, 2010Leave a reply

The latest edition of the Unnatural Causes newsletter featured a recent article by Michael Lu and colleagues, who propose a 12-point plan for closing the black-white infant mortality gap. The article, published in the journal Ethnicity & Disease, outlines a life-course approach to eliminating racial inequalities in birth outcomes. The authors boil down the approach to a 12-point plan:

  • Provide interconception care to women with prior adverse pregnancy outcomes
  • Increase access to preconception care to African American women
  • Improve the quality of prenatal care
  • Expand healthcare access over the life course
  • Strengthen father involvement in African American families
  • Enhance coordination and integration of family support services
  • Create reproductive social capital in African American communities
  • Invest in community building and urban renewal
  • Close the education gap
  • Reduce poverty among African American families
  • Support working mothers and families
  • Undo racism

What’s important about this list is that it identifies interventions at many different levels—from clinics to communities to the country. The list also moves beyond the usual focus on health care by identifying basic social and economic factors that drive health inequalities, including poverty and systemic racism. For each recommendation, the article reviews evidence for why each point matters and highlights interventions that have made a difference. This evidence-approach could help to strengthen current efforts to address infant mortality in Leon County.

The article is freely available from the Unnatural Causes website.

Podcast: Social Environment Shapes Health

August 5, 2009Leave a reply

In a recent podcast from Partnership for Prevention, Dr. David Williams, Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, discusses the work of the Commission to Build a Healthier America. Williams discusses what makes Americans healthy and what we can do to improve public health in the United States. He identifies two take home messages from the Commission that are relevant to our work with HEAT. First, all Americans could be healthier than they are. This is important because it reminds us that health equity matters for everyone, not just people in disadvantaged groups. Second, as Williams puts it, “Good health is not created in doctors’ offices and hospitals.” Williams describes our health care system as a repair shop; we need to focus on what causes people to get sick in the first place. It follows that we need to broaden the current debate about health care reform to include a focus on how the social environment shapes health and drives up health care costs.

Tune in to Prevention Matters for the full podcast.

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