Congress Approves Healthy Start Funding

Before leaving town for the summer recess, the House and Senate were both successful at passing the funding bill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The House and the Senate provide nearly identical funding for Healthy Start — $105 million from the House and $105.372 from the Senate. This represents a slight increase over last year’s level of $102 million.   In addition to providing funding for Healthy Start, both the House and Senate included report language that highlights and calls attention to different aspects of the Healthy Start program.

The Senate report states:  The Committee provides $105,372,000 for the healthy start infant mortality initiative. The fiscal year 2009 comparable level was $102,372,000 and the same as the budget request.The healthy start initiative was developed to respond to persistently high rates of infant mortality in this Nation. The initiative was expanded in fiscal year 1994 by a special projects program, which supported an additional seven urban and rural communities to implement infant mortality reduction strategies and interventions. The Children’s Health Act of 2000 fully authorized this initiative as an independent program. The Committee urges HRSA to give preference to current and former grantees with expiring or recently expired project periods.

The House report states:  The Committee provides $105,000,000 for Healthy Start, which is $2,628,000 above the fiscal year 2009 funding level and the budget request. Healthy Start provides discretionary grants to communities with high rates of infant mortality to provide ongoing sources of primary and preventive health care to mothers and their infants. Currently, 102 communities have Healthy Start grants. The increase provided in the bill will support two to three new grants to communities.The National Fetal Infant Mortality Review (NFIMR) program, an important component of many Healthy Start programs, provides evidence-based interventions crucial to improving infant health in high risk communities. The Committee believes HRSA should continue to use Healthy Start funds to support the NFIMR program and that all Healthy Start Programs should be encouraged to implement NFIMR.

A complete copy of the Senate report can be found here.  The House report is found here.

–Jon Terry, President, Capitol Youth Strategies LLC

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National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

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Today marks the 1st day of September and the beginning of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. As an organization whose primary focus is to reduce infant mortality, especially in minority communities where the rates are significantly higher than other communities, this is a special month for NHSA.

In 2005, Congressman Michael C. Burgess, 26th District of Texas, introduced Resolution 402 directing Congress to observe September as National Infant Mortality Awareness Month and the U.S. House of Representatives passed the resolution in September 2006. Since then, September has been nationally recognized as the month where we focus on increasing awareness about infant mortality, highlight the factors that contribute to infant mortality and urge community leaders to rally with us to help reduce the number of babies dying before their 1st birthday. The United States continues to have one of the highest rates of infant mortality at 6.78 according to a 2008 CDC report.  Sadly, babies in Black, Hispanic and American Indian communities are dying at rates that are 3-4 times higher than White communities. Many minority communities also have infant mortality rates that are 3 times higher than the national rate!

To commemorate the month, NHSA and the 102 Healthy Start projects around the country will be hosting or participating in a series of community events.  From community block parties in Indianapolis to a 5k Run/Walk in Rockville, MD, we will all be doing our part to educate and inform women, men, businesses, and others about infant mortality. We ask that you join us this September, but also in the months to come to help us give babies a healthy start.

My plea to you is to do at least one thing, no matter how big or small, that will help our country have healthier babies. Whether it is taking an expectant friend to her first trimester appointment or volunteering with teen girls to discuss healthy lifestyles, you can help save the life of a baby. Together we can help families be healthier and have healthy babies!

Check out NHSA’s website for events occuring in Healthy Start communities this month.

The  Office of Minority Health has a listing of NIMAM events occurring around the country.

September is National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Welcome to the NHSA Blog!

The National Healthy Start Association is venturing out into the world of social media and has launched a new blog, “Healthy from the Start”.  We are very excited about the potential conversations we will have through the blog. Topics and news stories will focus on the health of women and children but also on the overall health of families in this country.

NHSA is committed to reducing  infant mortality and health disparities, specifically in minority communities. Our plan is to update you on how we are achieving this goal and how you can play a role in ensuring there are healthy women, healthy children, and healthy communities. Through the blog, we will also share what Healthy Start Projects are doing in communities around the country to improve birth outcomes, reduce pre-term births, increase access to prenatal care, and eliminate domestic violence. There are 102 Healthy Start projects in 38 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico that are on the frontlines in some of the poorest neighborhoods ensuring that women and children are healthy. The blog will help tell their stories.

We hope that you will visit this blog regularly to stay current on not just what Healthy Start is doing but also what our national partners and others are doing around the world to improve the health of women and children. From policy updates on home visitation to a story on reproductive health in Uganda, we will keep you informed on the happenings of women and children’s health globally. We will feature posts from our partners in the field of maternal and child health (MCH) and our friends in the community.

We are so thrilled about where this new avenue of communication will take us and that you will join us on this journey as we effect change for the health of women, children, and families. We know that with healthy families we will have healthy communities.