Jackson, Miss. — The Mississippi State Department of Health, Office of Health Disparity Elimination was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the March of Dimes to help reduce infant mortality rates in the state. The grant will be used to address the high rate of infant mortality in African-American communities through the Mississippi Sisters United initiative.
The Mississippi Sisters United project is a partnership between the Mississippi State Department of Health Office of Health Disparity Elimination and the National Pan-Hellenic graduate sorority chapters of Mississippi. Mississippi Sisters United is modeled after an initiative started by the Arkansas Department of Health designed to help educate and empower the African-American community to reduce the state’s infant mortality rate.
Mississippi historically leads the nation in the rate of premature births, low infant birth weight and infant deaths. Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child before the age of one. “Mississippi’s African-Americans have an infant mortality rate of 12.6 deaths per 1,000 births compared to 7.3 per 1,000 births for Whites. This significant disparity is the driving force for this initiative,” said Dr. Tanya Funchess, Office Director for the Office of Health Disparity Elimination.
The Mississippi Sisters United initiative will support the March of Dimes’ goal to implement community programs that aim to promote equity in birth outcomes and in the Mississippi State Department of Health’s efforts to reduce infant mortality. The initiative focuses on safe sleep environments, breastfeeding, folic acid intake and a woman’s healthy weight before, during and after pregnancy by using an educational video and other outreach activities. The program hopes to reach thousands of expectant and new Mississippi mothers across the state with the help of the participating sororities’ graduate chapters.
For more information on pregnancy, infant mortality, and to see the video, visit: HealthyMS.com/pregnancy. For more information regarding the Sisters United Initiative contact the Office of Health Disparity Elimination at 601-206-1540.
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