Health Department and Healthy start to increase efforts to address birth disparities

The Allegheny County Health Department’s (ACHD) Maternal and Child Health Program (MCH) and Healthy Start, Inc., announced that they will receive three years of training and technical assistance from CityMatCH to develop programs and policies and to implement equity-focused strategies aimed at reducing birth disparities in Allegheny County.

While there has been an overall decline in national Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), data shows that there continues to be birth disparities in Allegheny County, as black babies are dying at 3-4 times the rate of white babies.

“There is growing recognition that chronic exposure to structural and institutional racism, regardless of a mother’s socioeconomic status or educational attainment, are primary contributors to the high rates of infant mortality among black women,” said Dannai Wilson, ACHD Maternal and Child Health Program Manager. “This opportunity to advance our work to reduce disparities in pre-term births is a result of years of planning with our Infant Mortality Collaborative membership of over 100 stakeholders from various sectors, including community residents. We look forward to continuing these partnerships so all women and children in this region have access to a long healthy life, especially black women and infants, given their rates of mortality.”

CityMatCH is a national organization serving local, urban health departments in their maternal and child health efforts. The organization launched its Birth Equity Strategies Together (BEST) Cities Project through a $1.4 million grant from the W.K Kellogg Foundation. The BEST Cities Project includes the Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes (EI) and designation as a Best Babies Zone (BBZ).

In addition to receiving training and assistance, ACHD was selected to participate in the Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomesand Healthy Start’s place-based initiative in Wilkinsburg was designated as a Best Babies Zone.

These initiatives are designed to both address inequities in birth outcomes, and to add to the menu of evidence-based and/or promising practices, programs, and policies for improving equity in birth outcomes.

“Although our working relationship goes back much further, we’ve worked tirelessly the past three years with ACHD’s Maternal and Child Health Program to combat birth disparities in our area, which has resulted in this huge win for the health of women, babies and communities in Allegheny County,” said Jada Shirriel, Chief Executive Officer of Healthy Start, Inc.


About ACHD’s Maternal and Child Health Program

The mission of the Maternal and Child Health Program is to improve the quality of life and health of mothers, infants, children, and families in Allegheny County, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Click here for more information.

About Healthy Start, Inc.

The mission of Healthy Start, Inc. is to improve maternal and child health, and to reduce poor birth outcomes and infant mortality in Allegheny County. For more information, visit: