Published on Wednesday, 08 February 2012 09:08
Black History Month is always a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with those that have provided great leadership and events from our past. We believe that for there to be progress you must understand your past and where you have come from. At the same time though, we cannot dwell on events of the past to a point that we are unable to understand and address the current issues we face.
Today a story in the Maryland based Gazeete.Net demonstrates another issue that seems to lack a level of community awareness that it should. The story provides readers with data from Montgomery County that shows a disturbing ongoing trend in higher infant mortality rates for African American babies.
“In Montgomery County, a black woman is at least two times more likely to lose an infant within the first 30 days of life than a white woman, according to a report released by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
In 2010, the infant mortality rate for white women was 3.3 deaths per 1,000 births, according to the data. For black women, the rate was seven deaths per 1,000 births.”
There is an ongoing debate why we see this disparity in the infant mortality rate. Education and income inequalities don’t explain it. Is it issues of stress as some have proposed? Is it lack of education for expecting moms on things such as SIDS? It seems there is no clear answer. The lack of an answer though does not explain why there is no response from the overall community to this serious issue.
At some point we must stop letting issues such as these get put on the backburner. When it comes to African American women and pregnancy we seemed more concerned about trivial things such as if Beyonce was actually pregnant. We must find a way to move this discussion about infant mortality rates to the front of the line and work to ensure that we bring it down.
We have also written about another issue that seems to get little attention, but is connected to issues such as these. African American health research proposals continue to lag far behind in receiving funding grants. This lack of funding is directly related to the inability to get focused on issues such as the infant mortality rate. Without the necessary access to research funds we will never be able to provide answers to these why we face these problems. The time has come for our leaders, especially our elected ones, to get together and create a mechanism and/or research institution whose sole purpose will be to secure funds to do research on issues such as these.
We hope you will read and share this story with friends and family. The first step in any effort to bring positive change starts at home.
We thank Alison Bryant for writing and sharing this important information.