Black Maternal Health Advocates Call for Texas Maternal Mortality Report – Reform State

A coalition of organizations supporting Black Maternal Health Plan to hold a rally on the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to demand the immediate release of the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee (MMMRC) 2022 and Department of state health services (DSHS).

The Collaborative for the equity of maternal health (MHEC), an Austin-based coalition of 6 community-based birthing organizations, is asking officials to immediately publish available data to ensure appropriate action is taken to address maternal health and safety.

At the MMMRC last meeting In September, outgoing DSHS commissioner Dr John Hellerstedt informed the committee that his two-year report, originally scheduled for August 31, would not be released until summer next year.

The delay is due to the emergence of at least 31 additional cases from the provisional 2019 data that need to be analyzed and linked to this report.

Citing the need for the state to make the report annually, as it does in other states, rather than every 2 years, Hellerstedt said that the release of an accurate report that includes all data is necessary to avoid public confusion and control over changes to the report.

Opposition to the delay revolves around not having access to the most up-to-date information that drives best practices and reforms.

The event is expected to attract stakeholders, including state political organizations, grassroots groups and medical experts, and call for bipartisan support to address existing health disparities for women of color leading to disproportionate maternal deaths.

State Representative Shawn Thierry (D – Houston) is expected to speak at the rally. Thierry recently received a letter from the DSHS which stated that maternal health data and recommendations would be published in time for the next legislative session but did not provide a specific date.

In the letter, DSHS Acting Commissioner Dr Jennifer Shuford wrote that she intends to attend the next MMMRC meeting on December 8 to “provide timely data and recommendations to help inform efforts during the 88th session. legislative “.

Nakeenya Wilson, one of the community advocates on the review committee and representative of MHEC, said that while she appreciates the efforts to ensure that the committee’s work is not compromised, the reasons for delaying the committee’s information and recommendations are not relevant. for the work to address this issue in the next session.

Saying that women of color face significant maternal health disparities, she advocated a faster data release date to better inform policy in next year’s session.

“If you want to be [absolutely] sure of numbers, percentages and statistics, so it can be held back, “Wilson said.”[But] recommendations and results can be published. There is enough external data coming out that people can draw their own conclusions.

I think anything can be political if we allow it to be. And so the question is: do we allow public health information to be political and what are the impacts of allowing this to happen?

One of the members researching pregnancy-related deaths for the committee, Dr. Amy Raines-Milenkov, initially opposed the delay. Speaking to State of Reform on September 30 after the last MMMRC meeting, however, Raines-Milenkov said she now supports postponement of the report to include the full 2019 cohort.

It detailed the state process for reviewing maternal mortality cases.

“Just to give you an idea of ​​the process, the state requests documents once a death is found, and then it will take some time before they get the medical records, investigative reports, autopsies, [and more]Raines-Milenkov said.

“Then we get this information [for review] and then due to a Nursing Practice Act in Texas, we are required to draw up all records. It takes a while to compile all the records and then, once drafted, we move on to the abstraction of cases. Case abstraction is where it is entered in a format that can be reviewed by the review committee, then enters data entry into the CDC database, then returns to the state for committee review. “

She added:

“On the one hand, a good report with the right data is the best you can hope for. But at the same time, there is a great need for us to have information and that advice for the community. “

Scheduled on Dia de Muertos, the event is a bipartisan call to action that will hold a special memorial. The organizers will lay marigolds on the steps of the Capitol as a “altar offering”In honor of mothers and future mothers who have lost their lives.

A recent CDC report found that over 80% of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are preventable. According to the report, the main underlying causes of pregnancy-related deaths among non-Hispanic blacks were heart and coronary conditions.

According to Black Mamas ATX, black mothers have maternal mortality rates 2 to 4 times higher than white women and are at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression. Meanwhile, black babies account for 11% of births in Texas, but 30% of pregnancy-related deaths are black women.

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