Health group Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (IMCHC) will launch a campaign this fall to reduce racial disparities in maternal health. Women’s eNews reports that 5.9 white women died because of childbirth for every 100,000 live births in Illinois in 2004 , compared to 14.8 African American women. IMCHC‘s goal is to cut the gap between maternal mortality rates for white and black women in half within the next ten years.
IMCHC’s program models European maternal and child health care systems because western European countries have significantly lower rates of maternal mortality than the US. In European countries with low maternal mortality rates, the government subsidizes child care and offers paid leave for parents. According to Women’s eNews, IMCHC is organizing to create better sex education and family planning programs as well as teaching pregnant women about nutrition and birth planning.
Robyn Gabel, executive director of the Chicago-based Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, told Women’s eNews, “A big part of reducing mortality is going to be improving overall health. Some of the feedback we heard from women in our focus groups is that it’s hard to get health care in their communities. There are long waits, receptionists or doctors are mean to them, there’s a lack of transportation to get to appointments, the cleanliness of clinics is poor. Those are all things we want to work on.”
The National Women’s Law Center issued the National Report Card on Women’s Health in 2004 that compared data from each state to find that only four states in the US, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont, have a satisfactory rating of lower than 3.3 deaths of women because of childbirth for every 100,000 live births.