North Carolina Department of Health Launches Maternal Health Initiative






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The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with more than 100 organizations to launch programs aimed at restoring infant and maternal mortality rates.

The North Carolina Department of Health is working to fill gaps in the state’s infant and maternal mortality rate.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services works with more than 100 partners to improve the health of all people of reproductive age. The strategic plan will focus on infant mortality, maternal health and maternal mortality.

Infant and maternal mortality rates are highest among black women and babies nationally and in the state compared to whites and Hispanics. Similar gaps also exist with Native American and Indigenous populations. North Carolina earned a “D” on the 2021 March of Dimes report card for failing to improve maternal and child health.

“Historic inequalities in our economic and social systems continue to prevent Black, Indigenous, and people of color from achieving the best possible health,” said Belinda Pettiford, MPH, Chief of Women’s Wellness, infants and communities. “The economic and social crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the urgency to ensure that individuals and families have the best possible chance of leading healthy lives.”

The 2022-2026 NCDHHS Perinatal Health Strategic Plan will aim to improve the well-being of children and families. The initiative will strive to give everyone the opportunity to be healthy, regardless of social and economic factors. The three main goals are to address economic and social inequalities, strengthen families and communities, and improve health care for all people of reproductive age.

For example, one strategy is to expand the use of evidence-based models of perinatal care, including doula services.


“Strengthening our focus on child and maternal health is critical to nurturing the well-being of our communities across North Carolina,” said Kelly Kimple MD, MPH, Department Senior Medical Director for Health Promotion. “We are committed to achieving the goals of the Perinatal Health Strategic Plan and ensuring that people of reproductive age receive the care and support they need before, during and after pregnancy. »

NCDHHS recently received a community doula grant to support the NC Healthy Start Baby Love Plus program. In partnership with the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe and Opportunities Industrialization Center in Rocky Mount, the funding will be used to hire and train doulas to work in Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash and Pitt counties.

The state health department will work with multiple organizations, counties and communities as they take ownership of different parts of the plan to achieve its overall goals.
The Perinatal Health Equity Collective meets every two months and works with other state initiatives, including Healthy NC 2030.

Anyone interested in joining PHEC can email [email protected]

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