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Here is where you can find news about Jonesboro, Craighead County, and Arkansas at large, as well as news for Missouri and Tennessee.[ Read our Mission Statement ]

Arkansas ramps up fight against maternal mortality

Doula Therapist Care And Treatment For Pregnant Couple
Andrey Popov - stock.adobe.com
Women ages 35 and older in Arkansas have the highest mortality rate, which was 3.9 times the rate of women younger than 25.

Arkansas is taking critical steps to address its high maternal mortality rate, especially among women of color.

In the Natural State, Black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than are white women.

Angela Duran, executive director with Excel by Eight, partners with families and communities to improve health and education outcomes for children up to age eight.

She said that as a result of focus groups and surveys, her organization has developed a new policy agenda that prioritizes maternal health.

"We are looking at is making sure that women have the right health insurance to cover them from prenatal to birth to postpartum," said Duran. "We have met some amazing doulas in the state of Arkansas, who have been very supportive to women, particularly some African American doulas, and been working with Black women around the state."

Duran said Arkansas now offers insurance to women up to 138% of the federal poverty level as a result of the Medicaid expansion.

She added that women at higher incomes can also access health insurance with low or no premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

Duran commended Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' signing the executive order to address maternal mortality and increase access to doulas and various forms of health insurance.

Arkansas has a maternal mortality rate of approximately 44 deaths per 100-thousand live births.

Duran said her group's policy objective centers on examining populations that face disenfranchisement from systems for various reasons, hindering their ability to navigate existing structures effectively.

"In addition to maternal health, knowing that it has a stronger impact on Black women, we look at ALICE families - which stands for Asset-Limited Income Constrained and Employed," said Duran. "So, it's people that are working, doing the right thing, and still don't have enough income to meet their basic expenses."

Duran added that a prenatal care model called Centering Pregnancy helps to improves outcomes for Black and white women.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is launching a mobile version to reach underserved communities. It creates support groups for expectant mothers at similar stages.

Danielle M. Smith is an award-winning radio journalist/personality with more than a decade of experience in broadcast media. Smith is a former audio journalist with American Urban Radio Networks and Sheridan Broadcasting Networks. She is currently joining PNS as a producer. She also hosts a weekly community affairs show “Good News” on Power 1360 WGBN AM 1360 & 98.9FM in Pittsburgh, PA. Smith sits on the Communications board for the Functional Literacy Ministry of Haiti 501 ©(3). Smith recently took a leap of faith and relocated to Nashville TN.
A statewide non-profit news service for Arkansas. Based in Little Rock as a bureau of the Public News Service.