After nearly three years of continuous work and collaboration between the Dane County Health Council and its community partner, the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, to create a community-informed strategy and framework to improve the birth outcomes of Black mothers and babies in Dane County, the groups have announced the formation of a Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance of Dane County
The mission of the Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance (BMCHA), a 21-member body comprised of local Black women leaders, advocates, and community influencers, is to transform birth outcomes in Dane County by identifying, informing and advancing strategies that improve the reproductive, maternal and newborn health of Dane County’s Black population.
The group will be co-chaired by inaugural members Dr. Tiffany Green, assistant professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Alia Stevenson, Chief Programs Officer with the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness.
“The Black Maternal & Child Health Alliance is comprised of Black women serving in important roles in health care, our community, and as decision-makers and knowledge experts. Our highest priority is to ensure that the health and wellbeing of Black mothers remains front and center,” says Co-Chairs Green and Stevenson in a statement. “As the Alliance moves forward, we are pleased to join the Dane County Health Council as we work together to advance the health of Black mothers, babies and their families in this county.”
Black mothers in Dane County are more than twice as likely than white mothers to give birth to low birth weight infants, placing these babies at greater risk of significant health challenges and higher infant mortality rates. Wisconsin ranks first in the nation for Black infant mortality, and Black women in Wisconsin experience a pregnancy-related maternal mortality rate that is five times higher than that of their white counterparts.
“We are excited by the collective work we have done and continue to do to drive change in Dane County that advances the health and well-being of Black women and our families and community, said Lisa-Peyton Caire, CEO and president of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness. “We look forward to partnering with the Alliance and the Council as we continue to write a new and powerful narrative for Black maternal and child health in Dane County and to move Wisconsin from worst to best for Black women’s health.”
The Dane County Health Council includes Access Community Health Centers, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, Madison School District, Public Health Madison and Dane County, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, United Way of Dane County, UnityPoint Health-Meriter and UW Health.
The Alliance, an independent, self-governing body, will host its first official meeting this September. A roundtable discussion with the BMCHA and the Dane County Health Council is scheduled for November where both groups will identify joint priorities and goals around the work already underway. The first annual Wisconsin Black Maternal & Child Health Summit is scheduled for 2021.