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Akron-area Organizations Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Lower Infant Mortality Rates

Akron Mayor Horrigan looks on as 19 representatives of Summit County organizations sign MOU.

Ohio is in the top ten of states with the highest rates of babies dying within the first year of life. .   And that is in a nation with one of the highest infant mortality rates among developed countries.  A group of organizations signed a pact in Akron today (Thurs) to lower that rate. 


Most developed countries have infant mortality rates of 3 to 4 children for every 1 thousand. The goal of the Ohio Department of Health is to get the Buckeye State down to 6. Ohio’s rate ticked up last year to 7.4. For black children, its twice that. 


That’s why the city of Akron and 19 other organizations signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to lower those numbers.  Mayor Dan Horrigan read off the names as each representative signed it . .


“Akron Children’s Hospital, the Akron chapter of NAACP, Akron Summit Community Services, Cleveland Clinic/Akron General, The Akron Urban League.”


Horrigan committed that the city will take the lead if everyone else works together


“Akron and Summit County are resource rich and coordination poor.”


Some of the strategies include bringing at-risk pregnant women together in a group setting so they can all get help and learn together. 


They see their physician” says Akron’s Health Equity ambassador Tamiyka Rose, “but then they do a group visit to talk to women about the stresses they’re going through and how to decrease those stresses. “ 


Another plan is to visit the homes of moms at risk of premature births to administer progesterone hormone therapy. 


One issue with African American women has been a mistrust of the medical field. Rose says she’s heard even a professional woman express that.


“The young lady said she wondered if the doctor was telling the same thing to a white patient as they were telling to her.”


Part of the county-wide effort is to address what Rose calls institutional racism that causes stress in black women.  Of 30 infant deaths in Akron last year, 77% were African American.    


One positive note, the state reports a slow but steady decline in infant mortality the last 30 years.  From 2015 to 2016, the number of sleep-related deaths dropped 22%.