health equity, Health News, ICYMI, public health, Social Justice, Uncategorized

ICYMI: #BlackMothersMatterToo

POC Health Matters ICYMI


January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, however with all the news surrounding poor maternal health among black women and how black women are 243% more  likely to die during childbirth and post childbirth than white women, I found it appropriate to focus this month’s inaugural POC Health Matters ICYMI on black maternal health. After learning about the death of Shalon Irving, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employee’s death after giving birth to her daughter, my initial thoughts were that we just can’t seem to catch a break and how the American system seems so well designed to fail us in every aspect of our lives. Though appalled and quite frankly disgusted, the ingenious design of this “peculiar system” to continuously fail communities of color is the very reason why I chose a career in public health, what gave life to POC Health Matters, and what motivates me each and every day toward the improved health and well-being of our people and communities.

U.S. Black Mothers Keep Dying After Giving Birth. Shalon Irving’s Story Explains Why

In recent years, as high rates of maternal mortality in the U.S. have alarmed researchers, one statistic has been especially concerning. According to the CDC, black mothers in the Shalon Irving StoryIIU.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health. Put another way, a black woman is 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman, 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer, but 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition.

That imbalance has persisted for decades, and in some places, it continues to grow. In New York City, for example, black mothers are 12 times more likely to die than white mothers, according to the most recent data; in 2001-2005, their risk of death was seven times higher. Researchers say that widening gap reflects a dramatic improvement for white women but not for blacks.

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health equity, public health, Social Justice

Building the Case for Health Equity

Principle of Health Disparities and Health EquityThe great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his Letter from Birmingham Jail said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…whatever affects all directly affects all indirectly.” Though Dr. King was referring to the injustices of the 1960s Civil Rights Era, those same injustices are alive and present today. Police brutality and the unjust treatment of black and brown women and men in our court and prison industrial complex systems still run rampant. Yet we’ve come a long way and have even further (much further) to go in our quest for equality.

Though strides have been made since the Civil Rights Era, injustice, inequity and inequality are still very well embedded in America’s institutional and social fabric. These injustices have directly led to and continue to lead to poor health outcomes of some of our most vulnerable populations.  As the current administration seeks to make “America Great Again” (insert side-eye) and prohibit the CDC from using the following words: “vulnerable,” “entitlement”, “diversity”, “transgender,” ”fetus”, “evidenced-based” and “science-based” in the 2018 budget; I cannot help but pause to ask myself, “What’s really good?”

In my moment of pause, I found it important to write about (possibly a series of blog posts) on the topic of health disparities and inequities, specifically focused on the eight principles of health disparities and health inequity as described by Braveman et al. (2011).  But before moving into these eight principles lets go into a brief overview of health disparity, health inequities and distributive justice. Continue reading