Health disparities initiatives

Dr. Rowley (l) with students

Dr. Rowley (l) with students

The Department of Maternal and Child Health is committed to the mission of reducing health disparities in the population we serve in our state, our nation, and around the world.

Many of the determinants of disparities in racial/ethnic healthcare and health outcomes are cultural, economic, historical, and political in nature, collectively considered to be fundamental social causes. Better science is available bycreating sophisticated interdisciplinary concepts of the relationship between social processes and health. Advancing public health practice is possible through community partnered investigation, learning, and action.

During the past year the Collaborating Center for Health Equity in Mothers and Children (CHEMAC):

  • Completed an equity evaluation report for the W. K. Kellogg Foundation national First Food breastfeeding program. As a part of WKKF’s service to assist vulnerable children, the First Food initiative ensures that more babies will benefit from breast milk as their first form of nutrition. This evaluation examined how grantees conceptualize and operationalize equity, and the extent to which the current portfolio will likely achieve equity in breastfeeding. The report presents a typology of equity approaches and summarizes the strengths and limitations of the grantees with respect to their equity capacity.
  • Accomplished implementation of an equity approach integrated into state health department activities and infrastructure by completing an institutional equity toolkit for Michigan Department of Community Health (PDF). Practices to Reduce Infant Mortality through Equity (PRIME) is a program to enhance the capacity of the Michigan Department of Community Health’s (MDCH) Bureau of Family, Maternal & Child Health (BFMCH) to reduce racial disparities in infant mortality between Blacks and Whites and between American Indians and Whites in Michigan.  The toolkit was created as a component of the PRIME educational program and practice model. It was administered as a Learning Lab designed to increase knowledge of applied approaches to promoting equity and to promote incorporating equity thinking, perspectives and action into day-to-day work. The WIC staff participated in 3 week-long training sessions over the course of 6 months.
  • Helped to organize and conduct a community conference in Jackson MS focused on defining strategies for achieving health equity in Mississippi. The Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity, Inc. is a community based project that focuses on raising awareness leading to community action where health and social disparities exist. The mission of the Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity is to achieve healthy equity in Mississippi by advocating for changes within the community institutions that influence people’s everyday lives. This conference celebrated 10 years of program success and focused on defining approaches to address the needs of Jackson’s children ages 0 to 5 years, to ensure that the environments where they live, play, shop, learn, and seek help– always support and never inhibit their health and well-being, and promote the attainment of health, success and social equity.

Read about other initiatives to eliminate health disparities in the School.