Federal, State, Local Officials Discuss High Infant Mortality Among Blacks in Florida County
Officials from the HHS Office of Minority Health met with state and local representatives last week in Gadsden County, Fla., to discuss infant mortality among blacks in the area, the Gadsden County Times reports. The infant mortality rate among blacks in Gadsden County was 13 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006, down from 28.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1999. The national rate for blacks is 13 deaths for every 1,000 births, which is more than twice the rate of the U.S. population as a whole, the Times reports.
Participants discussed OMH's "A Healthy Baby Begins With You" campaign aims to raise awareness of the services and resources available to help local women and children reduce infant mortality. Garth Graham, deputy assistant secretary of OMH, said, "This campaign is part of a broader national effort that OMH has introduced to combat health disparities in all communities. We are pleased with the involvement of our local partners as we work to improve the health of all Americans."
Graham suggested that local women take advantage of services, such as Healthy Start, the Women, Infants and Children program and health examinations, offered through the health department. Other officials urged women to begin healthy habits prior to conceiving, the Times reports.
Until a few months ago, Gadsden County lacked an ob-gyn. State Office of Minority Health Director Emile Commedore now sees patients at the Gadsden County Health Department on Fridays. The county's "low literacy levels, high poverty rate and funding cuts" to transportation limit residents' access to medical providers, the Times reports.
State and local entities have been working to address health disparities in the county, according to the Times. The state Department of Health has commissioned the Institute of Public Health at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University to undertake a comprehensive needs assessment. The Gadsden Community Health Council and various partners will address the issues resulting from the assessment (Roberts, Gadsden County Times, 2/8).