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Eliminating Racial Injustice and Disparities in Maternal and Infant Care

Pregnant women with the words black lives matter.
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Our nation is in a state of crisis, and it is not the crisis that we are all thinking about. It is a crisis of disease — not an uncontrollable virus that takes lives indiscriminately, but an internal disorder that is deeply embedded in the fabric of our everyday lives and operates on prejudice and hate. The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others enrage and grieve us, both for what they are and for what they represent — not a tragic aberration but a systematic failure to protect the equality that our country professes to uphold. This failure is deeply evident in our healthcare system — a system that exists to protect and save but has egregiously failed to safeguard the lives of many of the most vulnerable, especially those in the black community.

 

In the maternal health field, we’ve seen this disparity play out in the shockingly disproportionate rates of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity for black women. If the fact that the United States has the highest maternal and infant mortality rates among comparable developed countries is not bad enough, the survival rates for black mothers and their infants are even more dismal.1 Black women across the income spectrum and from all walks of life are dying from preventable pregnancy-related complications at three to four times the rate of non-Hispanic white women,2 while the death rate for black infants is twice that of infants born to non-Hispanic white mothers.3 With causes that present as barriers to care, like lack of transportation and childcare, but are in fact deeply rooted in systemic racism and structural disadvantages. 

 

My company is founded on the principle that we can improve the maternal and infant health field and innovate healthcare to contribute to actual change in eliminating both maternal and infant mortality and disparities in care. Part of this mission means recognizing the realities of healthcare inequity, and working to resolve them through creating solutions that empower and educate those who suffer most from its challenges — because of the color of their skin, the neighborhood they live in, their economic status, or a host of other factors that are outside of their control but nevertheless have an impact on whether they live or die. 

 

At the heart of our mission is our commitment to health equity. Jollitot is free for all mothers, and always will be — regardless of race, income, or risk. We’re supporting mothers by creating products that directly address these, pushing to make rigorous investments in the Medicaid space, and advocating for maternal/infant healthcare mandates at the state and federal levels. We’ve worked and continue to advocate to open up pathways to reimbursement and access, so that delivering the best in maternal and infant healthcare never has to be a choice or come at a cost to the mother.

 

The entire Jollitot community grieves for the life of George Floyd and the countless others who have been victims of racism and inequality, and stands with the black community in protest and in action against all forms of discrimination.

Nicholas J. Kassebaum and others, “Global, regional, and national levels of maternal mortality, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015,” The Lancet 388 (2016): 1775–812; Selena Gomez and Bradley Sawyer, “How does infant mortality in the U.S. compare to other countries?,” Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, July 7, 2017, available at https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/infant-mortality-u-s-compare-countries/.

It is important to note that not all people facing these issues identify as women. In fact, the United Kingdom has recently urged the United Nations to include pregnant transgender or intersex individuals in its protections for pregnant people. See, Haroon Siddique, “UK lobbies for trans rights in UN treaty but allows term ‘pregnant women,’” The Guardian, October 23, 2017, available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/23/uk-lobbies-for-trans-rights-in-un-treaty-but-allows-contentious-pregnant-women-term; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System,” available at https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pmss.html; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Pregnancy-Related Deaths,” available at https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-relatedmortality.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Infant Mortality,” available at https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/infantmortality.htm.

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