New York Events Spotlight Black Maternal Health Week

Black Maternal Health Week Campaign
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Photos: New York Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Black Maternal Health Week Campaign. In 2018, Congresswoman Alma Adams introduced the first Congressional resolution recognizing Black Maternal Health Week with then-Senator Kamala Harris.

On April 13, 2021 President Joe Biden signed a proclamation which established Black Maternal Health Week to highlight the racial disparities in maternal mortality rates in the United States. This year, Black Maternal Health Week is taking place April 11 - 17. The week which was founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance is an initiative that aims to deepen the conversation around Black maternal health in the US.

Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than their white counterparts and infant mortality is nearly two times as high in Black communities. The most recent preterm birth statistics show that the rate of preterm birth among Black women is about 50% higher than the rate of preterm birth among white women.

In our district, the Morris Heights Health Center will now combat these disparities and offer the patient-centered care we have been longing for, closer to home.

Through enriching dialogue surrounding Black maternal health, we can raise awareness of the problem and continue to develop solutions, policies for the betterment of Black women.

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn (shown above) issued the following statement in recognition of Black Maternal Health Week:

"When you're pregnant it's the start of new beginnings, a celebratory time, but the health care system is failing Black families, leaving women to wonder if they will leave the hospital alive. Pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are skyrocketing, and Black women are more at risk than women of any other race. Infant mortality is also nearly twice as high for Black women. I know this loss firsthand, and the pain of losing a child is unimaginable. During this week of awareness we must take action to stop structural racism from claiming additional lives."

Today, April 14 from 2-4pm CAMBA presents "Changing Outcomes: Moving Black Maternal Health Forward" with special remarks by Mary Bassett, MD, MPH, Commissioner, New York State Department of Health, followed by a discussion with Dr. Mary Bassett, Commissioner, New York State Department of Health, Dr. Margaret-Mary Wilson, United Healthcare EVP and Chief Medical Officer, and Valerie Barton-Richardson, CAMBA Chief Administrative Officer. Panelists include Bruce McIntyre III, Founder Save-A-Rose Foundation, Tia Dowling, Postpartum Doula at Metoodoula Services, Dr. Christina Pardo, MD MPH, Director, Division of Health Equity, SUNY Downstate and moderator Damalia Jackson, CAMBA Director of Maternal & Infant Health Services. Register here.

Last weekend at the NYS Association of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislators, Inc. 51st Annual Conference Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn hosted a workshop in partnership with The New York Social Action Delegation of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and 32BJ titled "Black Maternal Health in Context: A Macro Perspective," with guest speaker U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, moderator Esther Debbie Louis, and panelist Dr. Lesley Kernisant from Morris Heights Health Center at OneBrooklyn, Dr. Simone Lomax from New York Presbyterian Health System, Candis Tall from 32BJ SEIU, and full spectrum doula Allegra White.

The workshop discussed Black maternal care, the challenges affecting Black women and babies; solutions that will improve birth outcomes, and new legislation being introduced to protect women.

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