On September 1, 2014, the start of National Infant Mortality Month, registered nurse Sherry Payne will trek across the state of Missouri- a total of 200 miles in 10 days. She will stop in cities and towns along the way, to bring the message of Black Infant Mortality Awareness to healthcare providers, educators, and legislators. Nationally, Black infants are TWICE as likely to die prior to their first birthday as their Caucasian counterparts. The national average for infant mortality is 6.4%, but broken down by race, the rate is 6.3% for Whites and 12.2% for Blacks. In Missouri, the numbers reflect the national data.
Common causes of infant death include prematurity, low birth weight, and unsafe sleep, SID. During pregnancy, lack of access to prenatal care, and low quality care, and a lack of culturally congruent care are often contributors to infant deaths. Ms. Payne will concentrate on preventable causes of infant deaths as she travels around the state. She is the Executive Director of Uzazi Village, a Kansas City, MO nonprofit dedicated to improving perinatal health disparities.
She will walk along the Katy Trail through central Missouri from Kansas City to St. Louis. Funds will be raised to benefit the programs of Uzazi Village, The National Association of Birth Centers of Color and the International Center for Traditional Childbearing. These organizations and their various programs work to decrease infant mortality in the African-American community in communities across the United States.
One such program is the Uzazi Village Sister Doula program, designed to pair pregnant women on Medicaid with specially trained home visiting “Sister Doulas”. Uzazi Village is also home of the ‘Chocolate Milk Café’ a mother to mother support model for African-American breastfeeding mothers. These and other programs are working to close the gap on Black infant mortality by ensuring that mothers are informed, educated, know their healthcare consumer rights, and can access the care and resources they need to achieve and maintain healthy pregnancies and births. We also work with healthcare organizations and providers to educate them on culturally concordant models of maternity care and creating awareness around systemic racism in healthcare.