By: Jazmin Long
I am writing to promote awareness of the seriousness of infant mortality (deaths of children before they reach their first birthdays) in Cleveland. Infant mortality is an indicator used to assess the health and wellbeing of a community, a state or a nation. As the president & CEO of Birthing Beautiful Communities (BBC), I am witness to this complex issue that is linked to a variety of conditions with the most critical being racism.
Infant mortality is an indicator used to assess the health and wellbeing of a community, a state or a nation.
It’s for this reason that BBC joined members of Cleveland’s Racism As A Public Health Crisis Taskforce and supported advocacy efforts to get the City of Cleveland to declare racism a public health crisis. It is critical that Cleveland’s next mayor understands the pervasive role of racism in many of the ills plaguing the city of Cleveland. Those ills supported Cleveland being ranked as the worst major metro-city for Black women, according to a report from City Lab, and also lead to the poor birth outcomes faced by birthing people.
In 2020, 100 infants died; of those, 73 were Black. For every 1,000 live births, the Black infant mortality rate was 14.6. This is dramatically higher than the rates of White babies, whose rate was 3.5. The goal of any mayor should be to maintain or create a world class city where all are able to thrive. Well, if Black babies aren’t making it to their first birthdays, then our community can’t be a world class city.
If Black babies aren’t making it to their first birthdays, then our community can’t be a world class city.
I ask that our next mayor ensure that every woman has a healthy pregnancy, prenatal care and a healthy baby after delivery. This will require steady consideration of the conditions in which we live, learn, work and play to successfully prevent and reduce the deaths of our youngest community members.
Healthy mothers, babies and families are the foundations of a thriving Cleveland. The next Mayor of Cleveland must take a multifaceted approach to reducing Black infant mortality.
Jazmin Long, President & CEO
Birthing Beautiful Communities