Alabama continues to rank among the worst states for infant and maternal health, with infant and maternal mortality rates consistently above the United States average. Workgroups and task forces across the state have mobilized to combat these pressing issues. Unfortunately, a traditionally decentralized structure has limited the reach and sustainability of interventions to improve maternal health.
Through the Health Resources and Services Administration State Maternal Health Innovation and Data Capacity Program, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health and the Alabama Perinatal Quality Collaborative will lead the effort to create the Alabama Maternal Health Task Force. The task force will centralize efforts across the state to build and implement a strategic plan aimed at improving maternal health.
“Alabama is a rural state with many racial and ethnic disparities, health care access issues, co-morbid and chronic conditions, economic barriers, and more that all exacerbate our maternal health problems,” said Martha Wingate, DrPH, chair of the UAB School of Public Health Department of Health Policy and Organization and director of the initiative. “Other initiatives have been able to tackle one or two areas; but to see significant changes and improvements, it is time to combine knowledge, skills and resources to develop a strategic and comprehensive plan that reduces maternal mortality and morbidity across the state.”
To strengthen the task force’s ability to address maternal health disparities, the HRSA program will also provide funding for:
- Enhanced state-level data collection
- Assistance in expanding the workforce and addressing training needs related to maternal health
- Improved access to comprehensive, continuous, high-quality maternal clinical care through telehealth and other strategies
- Engagement opportunities for community partners, families and others with lived experiences related to adverse maternal health outcomes
The UAB School of Public Health received support in building the task force from partners across the state’s public and private sectors, including the Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama Hospital Association, Alabama Department of Mental Health Services, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, March of Dimes and many more.
The Alabama Maternal Health Task Force will drive collaboration and use creative approaches to develop a more comprehensive means of improving maternal health in the state.