Anne Arundel County, Md., Program To Reduce Infant Mortality Rate Loses Federal Funding
The fate of the Anne Arundel County, Md., Healthy Start program, which seeks to reduce the county's infant mortality rate, is "unclear" after the loss of $610,000 in federal funding, the Annapolis Capital reports. Whether the program "can be reconstructed with county dollars" is unknown, according to the Capital.
The black infant mortality rate became a "widespread concern" for the county five years ago, when data indicated that the rate increased to 23 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births, the Capital reports. Currently, the infant mortality rate for blacks in Anne Arundel County is four times higher than that of whites, and 21 black infants in the county die before age one for every 1,000 live births, a rate three times higher than the national average.
County Health Officer Frances Phillips hopes to "cobble together a diminished Healthy Start program," but nurses would be unable to complete the 500 home visits or address the 3,000 in annual referrals as they did before, according to the Capital. If county or state funds are not made available for the program, it "would be catastrophic" for the health department, Phillips said, adding, "There is no fat. There is no ability to shave (that much money)."
Joanne Hasman, a nurse-midwife at Special Beginnings Birth Center in the county and a member of the Anne Arundel Fetal Mortality Review Committee, said reducing stress from housing or social situations and encouraging access to government programs such as Women, Infants and Children likely could prevent many infant deaths (Cox, Annapolis Capital, 3/23).