As Women’s History Month is underway Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released his report on the “Black Maternal Mortality (BMM) Taskforce” yesterday, highlighting the soaring rate of maternal deaths.
One of the most important outcomes of the BMM Taskforce is the formation of the Bronx Maternal Health Consortium. This will bring together representatives of all Bronx hospitals and maternal health providers in the borough to problem-solve, share best practices and collaborate on improving health for Bronx mothers.
Over the past several years, the Bronx, like the rest of the country, has seen the rate of maternal mortality – deaths before, during and after childbirth – rise at a rapid rate. The Bronx’s mortality rate is higher than New York State’s as a whole and the mortality rate for Black women is much higher than for women of other races.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately plagued our borough and has shined a light on many inequities when it comes to health,” Diaz said. “Black women have seen higher rates of maternal mortality than women of any other race in New York State, and with the launch of The Bronx Maternal Health Consortium, my office has taken a significant step to unite the top maternal health experts in The Bronx to strategically tackle the problem of maternal mortality in The Bronx, and eliminate the risks black women face.”
The “Black Maternal Mortality Report” also outlines several recommendations from health care and policy leaders that participated in the BMM Taskforce on combating the rise in maternal deaths. They include elevating maternal health as a public health priority with all Bronx elected officials, targeting racial bias, restoring federal funding to Bronx maternal health programs, expanding insurance coverage for childbirth (targeted advocacy for enhanced doula, pre-and postnatal services), addressing communication barriers between hospitals, adopting the “NYC Standards for Respectful Birth” and systematic patient education across all Bronx birth centers, and reinstating a forum for a borough-wide body of leaders, advocates and stakeholders as the Bronx Maternal Health Consortium.
“By having community-based organizations and healthcare workers in the forefront of the taskforce, we are looking forward to producing real change informed by community members themselves,” said C Virginia Fields, president and CEO of The National Black Leadership Commission on Health. “The trends we see in Black maternal health rates are far from incidental. They are the result of systematic violence and complacency in which we are all implicated. The Black Maternal Mortality Taskforce and consortium recognizes this and not only attempts to re-envision how we approach race and racism in Health care, but in all areas of life that impact Black parents.”