Page 12 - Scene Magazine 42-02 February 2017
P. 12

For Our Health
Unlocking The Treasure Of A Healthy Community
BY RICK CHAMBERS
Health is the real wealth, according to Gandhi. A community’s treasure is mea- sured in large part by the health of its resi- dents, especially its families and children.
That’s why Health is one of four impact areas in which United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region focuses its work. Through strong local partnerships and result-focused programs, UWBCKR is helping create a healthier community.
The infant mortality rate (IMR) is a key health indicator for communities. It reflects the quality of maternal health, the accessi- bility and quality of primary health care, and the availability of support services. Businesses often consider infant mortality rates, among other measures, in deciding where to invest time and resources to locate or expand.
Nationally, the infant mortality rate is 6.1, meaning about six infant deaths occur every 1,000 live births. Nearer to home, av- erage IMRs range from 6.0 in Kalamazoo County to 10.3 in greater Battle Creek.
A closer look at these numbers reveals troubling disparities. Among African-American babies born in Battle Creek, the IMR is 12.1, compared to 8.1 for white babies. That rate is worse than those of many foreign nations. Kalamazoo County’s African-American newborns fare even worse. With an IMR of 15.5, black babies are four times the rate among white babies.
The good news is, the rates in Battle Creek have been steadily improving in recent years through collective efforts. According to the Battle Creek Community
Foundation Regional Health Alliance, the overall IMR fell to 6.0 between 2012 and 2014. Progress is happening even as racial and economic disparities continue to require action. This is true in both Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, where infant mortality is gaining increased attention through a broad-based initiative called Cradle Kalamazoo, in which UWBCKR is a partner.
United Way has set a goal to improve the infant mortality rate across families of color and low-income to 6.0 by 2025.
Partnerships are already in place to make that happen. Here are two examples: Sprout Box Scholarship Project (Sprout Urban Farms). This program de- livers fresh, locally grown produce to 25 local families receiving supplemental food benefits, including WIC (Women, Infant and Children program) and SNAP (Supple- mental Nutrition Assistance Program). The project allows pregnant and parenting families an opportunity to receive weekly produce deliveries at a highly subsidized rate and helps them with strategies to stretch their food budgets. Bringing health- ier food to low-income families means children are healthier, mothers-to-be are healthier, and their newborns are healthier. Nurse-Family Partnership (Calhoun County Public Health Department). NFP is an evidence-based home-visiting program that provides long-term support for vulnerable, low-income mothers pregnant with their first child. Specifically, NFP improves pregnancy outcomes, child health and development, and economic
self-sufficiency. These are key factors in the health of newborns, children, families – and, ultimately, the community.
Those are two of 40 initiatives in the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo region that UWBCKR is funding and partnering with to drive progress and measure impact. Among the tools at hand:
• Evidence-based home health visits;
• Community health workers;
• Integrated care and case management; • Mental health treatment;
• Substance abuse intervention and
treatment;
• Child abuse and neglect prevention
counseling;
• Pre- and post-natal nutrition and healthy
lifestyle supports;
• Neighborhood-based programs in high-
need areas;
• Anti-bias training and assessment;
• Inclusive supports such as multi-lingual
services, non-traditional communica- tion methods and transportation.
Through these many efforts and collab- orations, United Way hopes to further re- duce infant mortality across all populations while improving the health of vulnerable children and families – and in the process build a healthier, vibrant community where all people realize their full potential.
Creating this treasure of a healthy region requires everyone to be involved. To find out how you can get engaged, visit UWBCKR’s website at www.changethestory.org. You can also connect through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
HEALTH
GOAL: Improve infant mortality rates in families of color and low-income families to 6 per 1,000 births by 2025.
Babies of color in our region are 4.5 times more likely to die by their first birthday.
Infant mortality rate is a key measure of a healthy community. Every dollar spent on health-based home visitation saves $5.70 in future costs.
IMPACT: 150 families received pre- and post-natal home health visits, improving pregnancy and birth outcomes.
Your support for United Way can #ChangeTheStory
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