Novant Health announces new three-tiered strategy to address disparities in maternal and infant health

WINSTON SALEM, N.C. – In the richest nation on Earth, moms are dying at the highest rate in the developed world – and the rate is rising. To combat this unacceptable trend in the United States, Novant Health recently announced its three-tiered strategy to address disparities in maternal and infant health.

Novant Health will focus on the following three areas:

  • Improving access to early and adequate prenatal care
  • Recognizing and addressing deficits in social determinants of health (SDoH)
  • Mitigating unconscious bias through proactive education and training

“Novant Health’s strategies related to maternal and infant health are informed by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030 goals. This work will bolster our ongoing efforts to ensure equity in healthcare for all communities. Maternal and infant health are foundational to this endeavor, as pregnancy represents a critical time for a woman and her unborn child,” said Dr. Pamela Oliver, executive vice president of Novant Health and president of the Novant Health Physician Network. “Each of our approaches is fueled by the urgency to identify and address the disparities in care for women and infants in our community, and we know that achieving our target outcomes will be further bolstered by strong community partnership engagement.”

In 2021, 1 in 6 infants in North Carolina were born to a woman receiving inadequate prenatal care. Research indicates that babies of mothers who do not receive prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. Early and adequate prenatal care is essential to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Pregnant and parenting women often face challenges including, but not limited to, real and perceived barriers to care, SDoH, and implicit bias, and data shows starkly different maternal outcomes for Black women. Nationally, Black women are 3-to-4 times more likely to die than white women and have the highest rates of maternal mortality, independent of income, age and education. Additionally, infant mortality, fetal death and stillbirths occur at a higher rate in Black children. The drastic disparities centered on the maternal and infant health experience will be a central focus of Novant Health’s strategic approach.

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