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Addressing Racial Disparities In Maternal Health: A New Center’s Mission



Addressing Racial Disparities In Maternal Health: A New Center's Mission

Racial Disparities In Maternal Health: The US has always had severe maternal health inequities, with Black women disproportionately affected. Black women are three times more possible to die from pregnancy-related reasons than white women, putting the US at the top of the list of affluent countries with the highest maternal death rate. Racism lurks behind these depressing numbers.

Multifaceted racism in maternal health originates from historical and structural prejudices in healthcare and society. Recognizing racism’s involvement in this issue is vital since social variables and structural obstacles dominate maternal health outcomes. Addressing healthcare racial prejudice is essential for equal maternal health outcomes.

The newest March of Dimes Report Card shows that Black households have the worst maternal health inequalities. Philadelphia is an example of how institutional racism, socioeconomic determinants of health, and failed policies have produced an explosive combination that has contributed to the national maternal health disparities epidemic. 

Black, Indigenous, and people of color account for 80% of maternal fatalities in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, 80% of these people also have social and structural health challenges such as mental illness, drug abuse, and lack of prenatal care.

Penn Takes The Lead In The Fight Against Racial Disparities In Maternal Health

Despite racial inequities in maternal health, the University of Pennsylvania offers optimism. This prestigious institution has pioneered maternal health equality advocacy via breakthrough clinical research and innovative technologies for years. A landmark national alliance will boost Penn’s efforts to eliminate maternity health racial inequities.

In January, the University of Pennsylvania hosted the March of Dimes Research Center for Progressing Maternal Health Equity. This center will use Penn’s extensive research capabilities, cutting-edge technology, and strategic partnerships to address racial disparities in maternal health results in the US under Dr. Elizabeth Howell, chair of the Perelman School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Howell is committed to actionable change. “We are not focused on more description around the existing inequities,” he adds. “We are focused on evidence-based, action-oriented solutions to reduce disparities in maternal outcomes.” Penn aims to solve racial inequality via action, not words.

The March Of Dimes Research Center – A Catalyst For Change

The March of Dimes Research Center for Advancing Mother Health Equity is not a symbol; it is a commitment to improve mother health. Penn sponsors one of five March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers globally, and this new facility will improve Penn’s existing activities in many significant ways.

Fundamental, clinical, and policy research studies on establishing and testing equitable maternity care models are one of the center’s primary functions. In its first year, March of Dimes is financing two programs that might change maternal health equality.

First, the NICU is tested for postpartum care. In cooperation with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, this initiative will examine if NICU postpartum care improves outcomes for at-risk parents. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania serves a predominantly low-income, primarily Black population at high risk of morbidity and insufficient postpartum care. This study focuses on gestational diabetes postpartum birth parents.

In conjunction with Cocolife, the second initiative seeks to create an integrated doula care model. Pregnant women usually hire a doula, but the two seldom meet until the delivery room. This initiative attempts to introduce doulas into hospital-based maternity care early, which might enhance patient outcomes.

These efforts are only the beginning of the March of Dimes Research Center for Progressing Maternal Health Equity goals. Dr. Howell’s long-term goal is to create a competitive procedure for maternal health equity research at Penn and outside, sponsoring creative pilot initiatives. This innovative center will be governed by a scientific advisory board and a community board to address maternal health equality and racial inequities.

Read Also: University Of Pennsylvania Law Professor Under Review For Alleged Racist Speech

The Multi-pronged Approach To Maternal Health Equity

Penn Medicine works outside the research center to address maternal health inequities by race. Since 2021, the hospital has pursued a multifaceted strategy to enhance maternal health and minimize ethnic and racial healthcare inequalities. This multifaceted plan aims to improve maternity healthcare and equality.

Standardizing patient care throughout pregnancy and labor to reduce racial prejudice is a crucial goal. Penn Medicine follows defined processes and best practices to provide high-quality patient treatment. This method reduces healthcare delivery biases, improving maternal health outcomes.

Penn Medicine has also targeted traditionally marginalized communities. These programs aim to improve healthcare access and delivery in systemically disadvantaged populations. Penn Medicine wants to make healthcare more egalitarian for pregnant women and new moms by providing individualized support and services.

The facility also emphasizes care continuity. Penn Medicine emphasizes prenatal and postpartum patient engagement. Penn Medicine promotes lifelong health and well-being for women and their families by providing comprehensive care after delivery.

Penn Medicine promotes maternal health equality outside its facilities. The facility also shares its accomplishments and lessons with Philadelphia and other maternity care providers. Penn Medicine works with other healthcare providers to reform systems and spread its programs.

Forging New Paths In Maternal Health Equity Research

The March of Dimes Research Center for Advancing Mother Health Equity is more than a symbol it reflects a dedication to breakthrough research that can impact mother health. This new institute seeks to advance maternal health equality research.

The center conducts scientific, clinical, and policy research. These efforts create and evaluate equity-focused maternity care approaches. The center studies all elements of maternal healthcare to provide a complete picture of maternal health equality issues and solutions.

March of Dimes is financing two groundbreaking maternal health research initiatives in their initial year. The first initiative, which investigated NICU postpartum care, might transform treatment for at-risk parents. This program might improve gestational diabetes outcomes and set a precedent for postpartum therapy for other health issues.

The second study on incorporating doulas into hospital-based maternity care might improve patient outcomes. This study aims to optimize doula assistance and establish more patient-centered maternity care by empowering doulas and obstetricians to collaborate early in the care process.

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