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NC receives more than $4 million in federal funds to improve maternal health

A pregnant woman holding her belly.
Camylla Battani
/
Unsplash
Black women are more than three times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy-related causes, according to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has provided more than $4 million to North Carolina to help close the gap in maternal mortality rates between Black and white mothers in underserved areas.

More than $4 million in federal funding to combat maternal mortality will be spread across different agencies, institutions and organizations in North Carolina. The effort aims to address maternal deaths during childbirth, and improving mental health for underserved communities and especially for Black women.

The funds come from the Health Resources and Services Administration through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Black women are more than three times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy-related causes, according to the agency.

HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson said the federal government is making maternal mortality issues a priority.

“For too long, we've seen too many women, particularly women of color, die in pregnancy or post pregnancy from pregnancy related causes,” she said. “That's just unacceptable and we have to change that.”

North Carolina’s Health Secretary Kody Kinsley, HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson and other officials pose for a picture at a round table discussion about maternal health on Thursday, Sept. 21.
Sharryse Piggott
/
WUNC
North Carolina’s Health Secretary Kody Kinsley, HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson and other officials pose for a picture at a round table discussion about maternal health on Thursday, Sept. 21.

Organizations and agencies that will receive federal funds include the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, East Carolina University, and UNC Chapel Hill. North Carolina’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley said the funds will go toward several efforts.

“One is to work locally in rural counties that have high levels of infant mortality and maternal mortality among Black mothers and supporting them [in] getting access to care,” he said. “We know that healthy mothers lead to healthy pregnancies and that leads to healthy babies.”

Funds will also be spent on expanding psychiatric access and growing the maternal workforce to deploy more nurse midwives.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.