(BOONE, NC)— AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) was awarded a three-year grant for 1.5 million dollars to improve birth outcomes, reduce infant mortality and improve child health 0-5 in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Watauga and Wilkes Counties. The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Initiative, funded by the NC Division of Public Health Women’s and Children’s Health Section, will partner with an array of stakeholders, including families, healthcare providers and community agencies to achieve program aims and implement evidence-based programs to improve maternal and child health in the multi-county region.
The MCH Initiative was established to provide a competitive grants process among local health departments (LHDs) to provide funding to achieve improved birth outcomes, reduced infant mortality and improved health among children aged 0-5. The multi-county region inclusive of the Appalachian District Health Department, Avery County Health Department and Wilkes County Health Department, will be awarded for a three-year period and will be administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, Women’s and Children’s Health Section.
The health of women of childbearing age and of children aged 0 -5 is critical to the health of communities. Some key indicators that provide information on the health of women and young children include:
Based on 2014 rates, North Carolina has the tenth highest infant mortality rate in the country with a rate of 7.1 per 1,000 live births as compared to the national rate of 5.8 per 1,000 live births. However, there was significant variance in rates among racial/ethnic groups. Non- Hispanic African American infants had the highest infant mortality rate (12.8 per 1,000) while non-Hispanic whites had the lowest (5.1 per 1,000). Non-Hispanic American Indian infants had a rate of 9.4 per 1,000 and Hispanic infants had a rate of 6.2 per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate disparity ratio of the African American infant mortality rate to the White infant mortality rate was 2.5 in 2014, which was an increase from the 2013 ratio of 2.3. Thirty-six counties had a ratio higher than the state rate.
Child Health Insurance
According to the 2010-2014 American Community Survey, the number of children without health insurance in North Carolina is about 155,000, which is 6.8% of all children. Among North Carolina counties there is wide range in the percent of children without health insurance with the percent ranging from 1.7 to 29.9 for the 2010 to 2014 time period.
The percent of children living in poverty in North Carolina was 24% in 2014 according to the American Community Survey, with North Carolina having the thirteenth highest percentage among all states in the United States. Among North Carolina counties in 2014 there was a great variation in the percent (13.1% to 46.6%).
As a community, we all share the responsibility of creating the environment where children can be safe, healthy and thrive. The Appalachian District Health Department, Avery County Health Department and Wilkes County Health Department have mobilized around this initiative as an engaged, multi-sectoral coalition that is prepared to improve maternal and child health outcomes for our communities. The proposed project is ambitious, yet achievable, because of the existing infrastructures of partnerships, collective resources that will be leveraged and the strong social capital found in staff members and dedicated coalition members.
For more information on the Maternal and Child Health initiative, contact Jennifer Schroeder at 828-264-4995 ext. 3130 or [email protected]