As principal investigator on the grant-funded “Healthy Moms – Healthy Babies – Healthy Community” (HMHBHC) initiative in Fort Worth, Texas, Dean Richard S. Kurz of the University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health will be participating on a national team addressing the issues of racial and ethnic inequities in infant mortality across the country.
The HMHBHC initiative, a program supported by North Texas, facilitated the development of a team that was then selected as one of five teams in the U.S. to participate in the Partnership to Eliminate Disparities in Infant Mortality Action Learning Collaborative (ALC).
The ALC was developed through funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and a partnership of CityMatCH, the National Organization of Urban Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Leaders; the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs; and the National Healthy Start Association. The goal is to bring together multi-disciplinary state and local teams to strengthen partnerships, build community participation and create strategies to address infant mortality in key communities most impacted. Teams are expected to combine their knowledge and problem-solving in innovative new ways to move beyond what has typically been accomplished on this issue.
The Texas team is led by Ms. Ann Salyer-Caldwell, associate director, community health promotion, Tarrant County Public Health Department; and Mr. Sam B. Cooper, III, Texas Title V MCH director for the Texas Department of State Health Services. In addition to Dean Kurz, other team members include the Reverend Ralph W. Emerson, senior pastor, Rising Star Baptist Church of Fort Worth; and Ms. Lauren King, representing Healthy Start Association.
Infant mortality has been and remains a significant issue in Tarrant County, Texas, and the disparities with regard to the African American population have been substantial and ongoing. This disparity has been explored in detail through the last two North Texas Health Forum symposiums in 2010 and 2011, sponsored by the School of Public Health.
The Texas HMHBHC initiative, currently in phase one study and funding, has recognized that environment, behavior, biology, and individual and group socioeconomic characteristics are all factors in understanding why a baby dies before the first birthday, and the program has connected its work to the life course perspective, an approach that views women’s health across a continuum, from infancy, early childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, midlife and into menopause.
HMHBHC is led by a Community Oversight Board including state, county and city legislators; clergy from the local faith community; service agencies including the Boys & Girls Clubs and March of Dimes; and members representing education, health and health care.
The initiative’s first steps included sponsoring eight focus groups in the community, to talk with different participants about perceptions, health habits and ideas of what makes a healthy pregnancy, with the results of this research to be presented at a community forum on September 15 at Rising Star Baptist Church.
More details on HMHBHC and the upcoming community forum can be found here.