Raising the Voices of Those in Need: Black Maternal Health in North Carolina

Black Maternal Health Week is April 11-17, 2023, and we can’t think of a better time to raise awareness of the need for strong healthcare for mothers and infants in North Carolina.  

The statistics are staggering: 

  • North Carolina has the 8th highest infant mortality rate in the country. 
  • Black women are 4 times more likely to lose a child before their first birthday compared to white women. 
  • Black women are 2.9 times more likely than white women to die while pregnant or within a year of childbirth. 
  • Across the United States, maternal mortality increased 58 percent from 1990 – 2017. This rate is estimated to have continued to rise since 2017, making America the only industrialized nation with rising maternal mortality. 

It’s time to act. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. 

This week we unveiled the “Progress and Opportunities: Maternal and Child Health Equity in North Carolina” report, which is a comprehensive analysis of maternal and infant health in North Carolina. It outlines the current landscape in North Carolina and identifies actionable policy, workforce, health systems, and funding opportunities. The report was sponsored by the HopeStar Foundation and validated by The Duke Endowment.  

But that’s only the start. This report reveals how much we need to turn this conversation into action and which organizations and communities are ready to do just that. 

Over the next few months, FHLI will be launching the Maternal and Child Health Equity Action Network (MCHEAN). MCHEAN will convene individuals with lived experience, organizations working on maternal and infant health issues, and communities that disproportionately experience higher rates of mortality. The network will be charged with creating partnerships, developing programs, and reforming North Carolina’s policy structure and will be comprised of 40 participants with lived experience interfacing with maternal and child health equity issues. 

This work wouldn’t be possible without our strong partnerships from the HopeStar Foundation and The Duke Endowment. Both organizations have been involved from day one, providing funding and thought partnership as we developed the landscape analysis and MCHEAN program. 

We have a long way to go, but we are excited about the possibilities ahead of us with the MCHEAN and with the dedication of our partners statewide. Together we can reverse these trends and help improve health care for mothers and infants statewide.