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A non-profit health insurance company announced that it has joined forces with smaller organizations in California to help provide aid to expectant Black mothers and their children.
The Blue Shield of California’s Maternal Child Health Equity program is helping address the low mortality rate amongst Black infants by providing a variety of services.
Following mothers throughout their entire pregnancy journey, the initiative helps refer them to organizations specializing in providing shelter, food and financial resources. The program also provides transportation and materials for taking care of an infant.
Doulas will be available for the mothers after the program themselves teaches them how to deal with health-related issues and complications. Alongside the doulas, the women can come up with birthing plans revolving around the most recent technology and are protected from any racial discrimination in healthcare during and after giving birth.
“We are addressing social barriers and disparities by providing the access and culturally relevant support to put an end to the structurally and systematically disadvantaged cycle of mothers being ignored and disproportionately underserved during one of the most important times of their lives,” said Vice President of the health transformation lab, DD Johnice, in a statement on the company’s website.
The new program is one of many steps taken by the Blue Shield of California. The healthcare company has already created many programs to address racial disparities such as their Maternal Mental Health program and a joint program with Maven that offers virtual support for expecting Black mothers.
In the U.S., Black mothers are amongst the groups with the lowest survival rate during childbirth. A study released by the University of Maryland in 2021 found that Black women are 3.5 times more susceptible to passing away while giving birth than white women are.
Similar statistics were found amongst Black infants. A report by the CDC released in 2021 revealed that Black infants have twice as many chances of passing away than white infants. The main causes for this low survival rate were found to be largely because of premature birth and being underweight. Amongst these infant deaths, the mothers received little or no care during their pregnancy.
The Blue Shield of California announced the new program on Feb. 9 in time to align with Black History Month’s 2022 theme. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the group that helped create and push forward Black History Month, announced that this year they’re going to promote Black health and wellness throughout February. The focus of this topic is to draw attention to racial discrimination in healthcare. The group is also determined to ease any worries Black Americans might have to get everyone in the community to do things like getting vaccinated.
“We are determined to create a platform that shines a light on the multiple facets of Black health and wellness through education and activism,” said a statement on the ASALH website.“There is much to uncover, amplify, question, and correct.”