|Office of Minority Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 21, 2007
Contact: Office of Minority Health
The Office of Minority Health and District of Columbia Department of Health Launch Infant Mortality Campaign
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 21 —The Office of Minority Health (OMH), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced today that it will launch a new campaign, entitled A Healthy Baby Begins with You , to address and help reduce the high infant mortality rates among African Americans.
OMH unveiled components of the print and radio campaign and introduced its partners for the effort at a local health fair and forum. Building on previous successful partnerships with HHS, the District of Columbia Department of Health along with four Medicaid-managed care organizations - AMERIGROUP, D.C. Chartered Health Plan, Health Right, and Health Services for Children with Special Needs, Inc. (HSCSN) - conducted the event to help spread the word about how to prevent infant mortality.
This event was designed to stimulate awareness of the local and national resources available to mothers and children to reduce infant deaths in the African American community. The national infant mortality rate is defined as deaths per 1,000 live births among infants up to the age of one year. Among African American babies, the rate is 13 per 1,000 live births, which is more than twice the rate for the U.S. population as a whole
"This campaign is part of a broader national effort that OMH has introduced to combat health disparities in all communities," said Garth Graham, MD, MPH, deputy assistant secretary for minority health. "We are pleased with the involvement of our local partners as we work to improve the health of all Americans."
At the campaign launch of A Healthy Baby Begins with You, Tonya Lewis Lee, author, producer, and wife of filmmaker Spike Lee; Charrisse Jordan, philanthropist and wife of Washington Wizards basketball coach Eddie Jordan; Justine Love, radio disc jockey and community relations manager of WPGC and Gregg A. Pane, M.D., Director of the D.C. Health Department and State Health Officer, spoke about infant mortality prevention in the African American community.
Tonya Lee serves as the spokesperson for the print and radio campaign. In the District of Columbia, Jordan and Love will promote campaign messages to educate African American women of childbearing age on how healthy living, eating well and prenatal care will help to increase the numbers of healthy babies. Lee read from her children's book, Please, Baby, Please , which she co-authored with Spike Lee.
"I am thrilled to be a part of this national dialogue to end infant mortality in this country," Lee said. "We have been complacent too long about the number of African American women who have experienced the death of their children from sudden infant death syndrome, premature birth and low birth weight."
At the health fair, mobile health units from the District of Columbia Department of Health and the Medicaid managed care organizations provided free health screenings. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health exhibited materials on parenting and reducing the risks for sudden infant death syndrome. Other activities included: chats on health topics such as breastfeeding and depression; a discussion on fatherhood; a book signing by Lee.
For more information on the campaign, please see minorityhealth.hhs.gov.