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UAMS working on adding midwifery program to address maternal mortality

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has a plan to combat high rates of Maternal Mortality in Arkansas.
LM Otero
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has a plan to combat high rates of Maternal Mortality in Arkansas.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) plans to start training students in a midwifery program by 2026. A midwife is a nurse that specializes in helping patients during childbirth.

In an interview with Arkansas PBS, Rep. Aaron Pilkington, R-Knoxville, said this type of program is needed to help lower the maternal mortality rate in the state.

“Unfortunately for a lot of our young women in the state, all of our women really, they lack access to that care whether it be because they’re not covered through Medicaid, or they’re falling between the crack, or they’re in a rural area where they are not able to to a provider,” he said. “We hope this new program at UAMS is helping to bring that gap of care.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Sarah Sanders signed an executive order to study the issue of maternal mortality and ways the state can lower the rate of pregnancy-related deaths.

Dr. Patricia Cowan, Dean of the UAMS College of Nursing, said UAMS is in the early stages of creating the program. She said the school is working with a consultant to navigate the accreditation process.

According to a report from the 2023 Arkansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee (AMMRC) Legislative Report, 92% of pregnancy-related deaths were likely preventable.

In Arkansas, there are about 45 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,00 births, according to Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit that works to improve access to maternity care. The U.S as a whole has about 30 pregnancy related deaths per 100,000 births.

Copyright 2024 KUAR

Ronak Patel is a political and governmental affairs reporter for KUAR News.