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Indiana coalition works to reduce minority maternal, infant mortality rates

Indy agency working to reduce minority maternal mortality rates

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Minorities lead the way in chronic illnesses, according to the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, which is working to help lower risks.

More minorities than ever are insured, but health advocates said huge barriers keep many others from getting what they need. It often boils down to socioeconomic issues and access to housing and healthy food.

Coalition representatives said chronic health conditions disproportionately impact minority communities.

“Cancer, diabetes, HIV, AIDS, and it’s usually a combination of socioeconomic issues, health care access,” said Tony Gillespie with the coalition.

Gillespie said the agency has worked for years with 21 organizations to reduce barriers, but the state isn’t quite where it needs to be. “Quality, consistent health care is very important.”

The agency is putting added focus on lowering maternal and infant mortality rates in minorities. “In the state of Indiana, black infants are two times more likely to die, and black women are over four times more likely to die in childbirth-related issues,” Gillespie said.

He said the group has advocated for change to Medicaid coverage and is working on research to better understand black or brown women’s experiences with getting access to prenatal care. The coalition is also highlighting how doulas play a vital role in minimizing deaths.

“Doulas, over the last seven to 10 years, have really been proven to be effective in reducing the number of maternal deaths,” he said.

Doulas are not midwifes, but rather support people who stay with women through pregnancy and up until their babies are 1 year old.

Sonte Hunt, a doula, said she calls herself a second pair of eyes for black women who may go unheard in doctor’s offices. “It could be a case of they are on Medicaid or have no insurance at all, you know, and in the medical field if you don’t have any insurance, it kind of, you know, slights you a bit.”

Hunt also has directed women to essential resources. “We ensure they have a great pregnancy.”

The coalition will host first Doula Day at the statehouse on Feb. 25.

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