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An Urgent Need

Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel serves as a member of the ASPEN Health Strategy Group (AHSG), which just released a new report calling for a prompt response to address the U.S. maternal mortality crisis, which disproportionately impacts Black women and other women of color. “Reversing the U.S. Maternal Mortality Crisis” is the result of convening of 23 nationally recognized leaders and experts across sectors, with input from the general public.

The report can be read online here. It advances “5 Big Ideas” to address maternal mortality, accompanied by four expert background papers that informed the group’s decisions. Among its key recommendations, the AHSG report urges that the nation:

  • Make a national commitment to lower maternal mortality and morbidity rates
  • Build and support community care models
  • Redesign insurance around women’s needs
  • Tackle the racism that undermines women-centered maternity care
  • Invest in research, data, and analysis

“Research is making it clear that racism and discrimination are major contributing factors to the public health crisis in maternal health,” said Villarruel. “The need for action to end disparities and improve health equity for mothers across the country couldn’t be more urgent.”

The maternal mortality rate in the United States is above that of any other high-income nation. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there were 17.4 maternal in the US per 100,000 births—a rate that has risen steadily since 1987. (The high-income country with the next highest rate was South Korea, with 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.) Within this alarming finding is another one: Black mothers across the income spectrum are dying from preventable pregnancy-related complications at three to four times the rate of non-Hispanic white women.

To elevate the importance of this issue and the AHSG’s report on it, Penn Nursing’s Center for Global Women’s Health invites you to join us for Reducing Maternal Mortality: Harnessing Multilevel Approaches to Reduce Maternal Deaths virtually on April 29, 2021 (7-8:45 PM EST). The Center will welcome national maternal health experts from nursing, midwifery, medicine, public health, policy, and advocacy to explore multilevel approaches to reducing maternal morbidity and mortality in the US. The AHSG’s report will be a central focus.