The growing maternal health inequities experienced by Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native people in the United States is an issue gaining awareness. Here in Washington, D.C., a 2018 review committee found that non-Hispanic Black birthing people made up 90% of the city’s pregnancy-related deaths, an especially dire local experience of a nationwide crisis. Just last December, Vice President Kamala Harris issued a nationwide call to action for public and private sectors to improve health outcomes for parents and infants in the United States. How will we address these injustices?
Today, we have access to more health data than ever before. But only once we understand the data we already have at our disposal can we start to identify where we fall short, fill in the gaps, and take the action the vice president is calling for.
Behind the volume of data are real people with real lives. A necessary step to bridging this gap is inviting nontraditional but key players to the table and hearing their stories. This includes listening to the experiences of birthing people and acknowledging that far more than clinical factors affect maternal health. This requires a holistic approach to health — understanding and improving the health of birthing people and their families is so much more complex than just visits to their maternity care provider.
It is time to come together for a discussion about these issues to create clarity about the data needed to target these inequities. They span many of the social determinants of health for birthing people, like housing, economic opportunity, and public policy. Join the AAMC Center for Health Justice for the Maternal Health Incubator, a two-day virtual convening featuring a diverse panel of speakers, from a lawmaker to a bestselling author, and from doctors to patients. The focus of the event will be on identifying data needed to close gaps in maternal health equity, but it would not be complete without hearing from the people whose lives have been touched by these issues. The Patient Perspectives session will highlight the unique stories of three people’s maternity care experiences in diverse areas of the country, from Washington, D.C., to rural Alaska. We spotlight more patient voices in the center’s newest polling brief on the experiences of 1,200 birthing people in the U.S., which provides insights on prevalence of complications and discrimination experienced during and after pregnancy and childbirth.
The Maternal Health Incubator will be held virtually on May 24-25 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET. Registration is free but required, so do not miss this opportunity to add your voice to this discussion. We’ll see you there!