INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Biden administration plans to invest $200 million to address Black maternal mortality rates. The Indiana Minority Health Coalition is also building on its work addressing maternal health disparities.
Data shows Black women and Native American women are three times more likely to die giving birth than white women. Advocates say a lot of that stems from limited access to care, but also inadequacies in how health care providers respond to their needs.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are using their voices and declaring this week Black Maternal Health week. While also taking steps to eliminate inequities and implicit bias in maternal health care.
“Black women in our country are facing a maternal health crisis. Black women are 2 to 3 times more likely to die in connection with child birth,” said VP Harris during a recent roundtable.
The plan in part includes investing $200 million to implement implicit bias training for health care providers, increase funding for the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and prioritizing investments in programs that protect rural health care access.
“We are more like a town crier. We are supposed to ring the bell, get in your face and sometimes make you uncomfortable just to talk about the realities of race and ethnicity difference,” said Carl Ellison with the Indiana Minority Health Coalition.
Tackling Black maternal mortality is a local issue too. Similar to national data, Black women have higher rates of maternal mortality in Indiana too.
“It’s about providing them with the tools so that they can have a safe outcome with their pregnancy and delivery,” said Bev Horton, a doula with Community Doula Services.
So for the last few years, the IMHC have added free to low-cost doula services to its outreach. Doula is Greek for a woman who serves. So people like Horton stay with mothers through the pregnancy and birth, advocating with and for them in operating rooms, and birth rooms.
“Teaching them to have a voice as well. With those tools that we provide for them. That’s a part of allowing them to advocate for themselves,” Horton said.
Maternal health advocates say we still need better tracking. Sometimes patient ethnicity isn’t asked for, or instead of asking, a provider may just assume ones ethnic makeup. For example mistaking a Black woman for an Hispanic woman or vice versa.