Serious efforts are afoot to reduce infant mortality rates in Detroit. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)
Re: Karen Bouffard’s Jan. 30 report, “Infant mortality rate in Detroit rivals areas of the Third World”: The infant mortality rate in Detroit comes as no surprise to local leaders. It is evidence of our failure to care for the whole person and a plea to unify social systems upon which our community relies.
Young women in our communities often begin their pregnancies unhealthy as a result of poverty and other social disparities. They have endured conditions within the home that are unsafe such as exposure to lead. They have endured the perils of living in a community that lacks strong public transportation and lacks effective education on health, wellness and sexual identity.
Poor nutrition from the lack of access to whole food, obesity, continuous stress and social isolation are all additional realities many women and girls experience during the pre-conception phase of their lives.
What starts as a social ill becomes a health crisis evidenced by our abysmal infant mortality rate.
I fear this rate will continue until we look beyond ourselves as separate systems and implement effective collaborative interventions that address the health of women and girls before they become pregnant.
We owe it to those we serve and we owe it to ourselves to positively impact the next generation.
As a nonprofit social enterprise, the Institute for Population Health (IPH) is committed to getting ahead of the problems that affect our community, not just respond to them. This is evidenced in our Social Innovation Lab, which assembles bright, creative and passionate Detroiters from varying backgrounds to apply design thinking to urban health issues.
Looking at mortality data by zip code, our design lab team has already used design thinking to propose actionable solutions to the high mortality rate in certain Detroit zip codes.
We look forward to applying this design to the issue of infant mortality in an effort to reveal additional and maybe non-traditional solutions to this persistent problem.
Alaina and Brandon’s story is all too familiar but it never fails to sadden me. Their story, and the stories of so many others, should strengthen our resolve to unify social systems around our residents to promote increased well-being and to prevent tragic health outcomes.
This is a time of hope in Detroit. It is encouraging that in the midst of competing priorities, Mayor Mike Duggan has elevated the conversation regarding maternal and child health.
Loretta Davis, president and CEO, Institute for Population Health, Detroit