Racial disparities specific to the African American community and directly related to the high infant mortality rate were addressed in Oklahoma City during the 2015 Infant Mortality Summit: An African American Perspective. This Summit brought together community leaders, health care professionals, non-profit organizations and state agency leadership. Together the decision was made to move forward and develop an Infant Mortality Task Force charged with creating a strategic plan to reduce the infant mortality rate in the African American community in Oklahoma County.
Over 100 individuals, organizations, state agencies and stakeholders came together and began building a strategic plan based upon the research and best practice models from across the country. The Task Force began with the clear understanding that an important component of reducing infant mortality is reducing the inequities between racial/ethnic groups.
The group focused on the Life Course Perspective, which is based on the theory that birth outcomes are determined by the entire life span of a woman not just the nine months of pregnancy. The three goals, adopted from the Life Course Perspective, focus on reducing inequities in birth outcomes including:
- Access to quality health care across the life span, including before, during and between pregnancies.
- Enhancing family and community systems that can have broad impacts on families and communities e.g., father involvement, integration of family support services, reproductive social capital, and community building.
- Addressing social and economic inequities that impact health e.g., education, poverty, support for working mothers, racism.
In March 2016 the Infant Mortality Alliance (IMA) launched. The IMA was charged with implementing the strategic plan developed by the Task Force. Today, over 180 partners from across the community are working together to build a healthier community for our babies.