Maternal and Child Health Initiative
Georgia has one of the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in the nation.
According to 2018 data from America’s Health Rankings, Georgia’s infant mortality rate increased 17 percent from 6.6 to 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, leading to a ranking of 46th in the nation for infant mortality. The three leading causes of infant deaths are conditions related to preterm birth and low birth weight, birth defects, and sleep-related deaths (including sudden death syndrome and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed). Preterm birth and low birth weight accounted for 45 percent of Georgia’s infant deaths and are more common among Black infants with risk factors being maternal chronic medical conditions, inadequate prenatal care, and unintended pregnancy. Further, Black, Non-Hispanic women are 2.7 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White, Non-Hispanic women.
In 2021, Healthcare Georgia Foundation launched the Maternal and Child Health Initiative, a multi-year, multi-pronged equitable grantmaking strategy to address maternal and infant morbidity/mortality among Black women and infants in Georgia.
The initiative intentionally targets Black women of reproductive age (approximately 15-45 years), regardless of socioeconomic status, and their children, partners, and families. Although infant mortality measures the death of an infant before his/her first birthday, the intent is not only for infants to “survive,” but to “thrive.” Therefore, the focus is on Black women of reproductive age and children up to age 3. This provides an opportunity to strengthen not just the child’s development through innovative and/or evidence-based grantmaking programs, but to also continue to support the mother and the family unit throughout the perinatal and interconception periods.
The work began with an environmental scan of maternal and child health conducted by Emory University and the Center for Black Women’s Wellness.
The goals of the Foundation’s Maternal and Child Health Initiative are to:
1.) Strengthen leadership capacity and build a coordinated statewide collaborative system in Georgia working to reduce maternal and infant morbidity/mortality.
2.) Modify, scale, and replicate new and/or existing innovative, promising, or evidence-based interventions throughout Georgia.
3.) Strengthen the healthcare professional workforce in Georgia to achieve more equitable access and support improved quality and coordination of healthcare services for Black women and children.
4.) Support efforts to dismantle systemic racism, by addressing bias within the healthcare system and supporting policy efforts that address the social and political determinants of health.
5.) Improve data systems collection and reporting to ensure more accurate tracking and reporting of maternal and infant health outcomes in Georgia.
To accomplish these goals, the Foundation is utilizing a multi-pronged approach that includes investments in policy/advocacy, programs, and partnerships.
In December 2021, the Foundation awarded a round of seed grants to five organizations that align with the Foundation’s maternal and child health policy/advocacy priorities .
Atlanta Resource Foundation, Inc., fiscal agent for 4Kira4Moms to establish 4Kira4Moms as a maternal and child health policy/advocacy organization, build its organizational capacity and strengthen its infrastructure to increase its ability to collaborate with partners, build an advocacy volunteer base, and develop programming that aligns with the Foundation’s policy/legislative agenda items.
Center for Black Women’s Wellness (CBWW) to support providing community-based advocacy training and to implement strategies that will activate and amplify the voices of Black women to promote equitable maternal and child health policies.
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia, Inc. (HMHB) to support promoting health equity and to improve maternal health outcomes through advocacy and authentic community engagement.
Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) to support MSM’s Center for Maternal Health Equity to implement a patient navigation project to advance maternal health equity.
SisterSong, Inc., fiscal agent for Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) to strengthen BMMA’s staffing capacity and ability to deepen partnerships, develop advocacy and awareness materials, and promote community engagement and advocacy in Georgia.