Tulsa, OK— On April 11, a local collaborative of health-focused agencies is taking action to highlight the staggering statistics of Black women’s maternal mortality.
In Oklahoma, the Black maternal mortality rate is higher than that of the nation. In Tulsa and Oklahoma, there are another 70 cases of severe or life-threatening complication for every maternal mortality case.
To raise awareness on this issue, the collaborative will host a screening at Circle Cinema of two short documentaries that showcase this devastating reality, Death by Delivery and Kira’s Story, occurring on April 11 to coincide with national Black Maternal Health Week.
“The driving force behind this effort is the fact that Black women’s maternal mortality has remained higher than white women’s risk for the past six decades,” said Maurianna Adams, Education & Outreach Director for Take Control Initiative. “We want to make it known that this is an issue happening right here in our own community.
”Black women are also more likely than white women to experience complications that are pregnancy and/or birth-related. In Oklahoma, black women account for 10% of the births statewide but make up over 22% of all maternal deaths. (Oklahoma State Department of Health).
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women experience pregnancy-related deaths at 3-4 times the rate of white women. A growing body of evidence indicates that stress from racism and racial discrimination influences maternal mortality and morbidity among Black women, regardless of their socio-economic, education or health status.
Maternal mortality is defined by the World Health Organization as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.”
Despite advances in medical technology and increased spending on health care, maternal mortality has increased for all women in the U.S. Approximately 700 women die each year during pregnancy or delivery-related complications. (This is the equivalent of four 737 planes crashing.) Often these deaths are preventable.
Following the films, local professionals and activists will take to the stage where a panel discussion and public conversation will ensue around this issue. (The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required at https://csctulsa.org/black-maternal-health/)
About Black Maternal Health Week
Black Maternal Health Week takes place every year from April 11 –17. The month of April is recognized in the United States as National Minority Health Month – a month-long initiative to advance health equity across the country on behalf of all racial and ethnic minorities. Additionally, we are joining dozens of global organizations who are fighting to end maternal mortality in advocating that the United Nations recognize April 11th as the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights. (genderhealth.org) By focusing attention on Black women and working to improve outcomes, all women will benefit.