On Thursday, September 23, 2010, the National Healthy Start Association held a briefing on Capitol Hill focused specifically on infant mortality. The event was titled, “Celebrate Day 366: Strategies to Reduce Infant Mortality and Ensure that Every Baby Has a Healthy Start.” Speakers at the event included NHSA Board Chair Lo Berry, NHSA Executive Director Stacy Cunningham, Congressman Steve Cohen, and representatives from the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Office of Minority Health. The second panel of speakers featured representatives from the March of Dimes, National Fatherhood Initiative and Healthy Mothers/Healthy Babies Coalition.
Over forty individuals attended the event, including Congressional staff, officials from federal agencies and representatives from other nonprofits that are committed to improved maternal and child health. This is the first time that a briefing has been held in the U.S. Capitol specifically to discuss infant mortality and highlight successful strategies to ensure healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. NHSA is committed to playing a leadership role in highlighting the tragedy of infant mortality and educating elected leaders about the need to increase support to disadvantaged mothers, babies and families.
After Congressman Cohen provided opening remarks, Lo Berry provided an overview of Healthy Start and examples of how the Healthy Start program in Tampa, FL has succeeded in improving birth outcomes. Stacey Cunningham highlighted the work of the National Healthy Start Association and served as moderator during the remainder of the briefing. The event concluded with a personal story offered by the Cooper family of Baltimore Healthy Start.
NHSA wishes to thank all who participated in yesterday’s successful briefing. To paraphrase the Deputy Director of the Office of Minority Health, Mirtha Beadle, the briefing was not the beginning nor end of this important work, but it was an important step in the process of eliminating racial health disparities!