Harris County Public Health Gets $5M Grant for Maternal and Infant Health
Health & Science

Harris County Public Health Gets $5M Grant for Maternal and Infant Health

April 30 2024

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Harris County Public Health (HCPH) was awarded a five-year grant totaling approximately $5 million to improve maternal and infant health through its Healthy Start Program.

This funding will be granted for a period of five years, beginning in, 2024, and ending in 2029. The goal is to address the health care and social needs of mothers and infants in high-need communities, thereby improving community health and reducing disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes.

The grant will support Healthy Start services, which include, case management, group-based and in-home parenting education, referrals, and linkages to care and support services as well as health care and behavioral health services for mothers and birthing persons in targeted service areas.

Every year, around 50,000 women in the United States face serious health issues during pregnancy, resulting in some cases of death. Sadly, 80 percent of these deaths could have been prevented. In Harris County, the rates of several health conditions affecting mothers and babies have increased since 2016, leading to poor health outcomes for mothers and babies of certain racial and ethnic groups more than others.

“Harris County Public Health (HCPH) is grateful for this significant and critical financial investment to support the expansion of our Maternal and Child Health programming, and this would not have been possible without the support of the Harris County Commissioners Court and our elected members of Congress. This is an opportunity to expand our reach and capacity to provide services to populations that have historically been underserved,” said Harris County Public Health Executive Director Barbie L. Robinson.

“Texas and Harris County have higher rates of maternal and infant deaths across all races, with significant disparities in Black babies and mothers. While disparities exist, HCPH is committed to closing these gaps and improving overall maternal and infant health outcomes by addressing the immediate needs of a family and the social determinants of health as the county’s health strategist.”

Although the mortality rate of infants has been on a steady decline since 2017 in the United States and Texas, Harris County has been recording a higher mortality rate among babies. The babies born to Black, non-Hispanic women are more likely to experience fetal death and have the highest mortality rate in their first year of life.

Harris County is in an urgent call to action when it comes to maternal and infant health disparities. Through this funding, HCPH will be able to develop resources that will help all birthing persons, their partners, and families ensure the best birthing outcomes. 

Earlier this month, HCPH published its Maternal and Child Health Report and announced a Maternal Health Bill of Rights. To learn more about the Maternal Health Bill of Rights, visit mhbor.harriscountytx.gov

For more information about HCPH, visit hcphtx.org.

Source: HCPH

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