Access to Health Care Key To Lowering Infant Mortality | news


September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month, and it has fallen 18 percent across the state since 2007. This shift is viewed as a win in most parts of Oklahoma.

In Cherokee County, some doctors are skeptical of these numbers, especially in Indian Country or in areas with a concentration of colored people.

Charles Knife Chief is a gynecologist and obstetrician at WW Hastings Hospital and has many years of experience working in IHS clinics. He stated that access to health care is the most important factor in reducing the infant mortality rate.

“There are several factors at play. Prenatal care is one, but there is also prenatal care,” said Knife Chief.

He believes the availability of clinics and health care has influenced the infant mortality rate in recent years, and that is cause for celebration.

Joyce Marshall, director of the health services for mothers and children in Oklahoma City, said the statistic reflects the work Oklahoma has done to bring health care to as many residents as possible.

“About 50 more babies a year can have their first birthday in Oklahoma with their families!” said Marshal. “Oklahoma continues to take positive steps to reduce child mortality through the work of many dedicated partners and individuals.”

Knife Chief said there is a racial gap between communities that have low child mortality rates and those that don’t. Blacks, Latinos, and indigenous peoples are most at risk of higher infant mortality rates because they lack equal access to health care and have major pre-existing conditions that make pregnancy risky.

Colored communities are more likely to rely on government programs like Medicaid and food aid. These population groups, in turn, are more likely to be affected by drug use, poor nutrition, high blood pressure, smoking and alcohol abuse.

“That affects premature and premature births. Prenatal births are an important indicator of the infant mortality rate, ”said Knife Chief. “The biggest push is trying to enroll patients early, diagnose their underlying medical problems if they have any, treat them, and monitor them throughout pregnancy. As doctors, we have no control over adherence to quitting smoking, and they don’t. “

Those who have to travel far to schedule their pregnancy dates are less likely to do so. Many Native Americans across northeast Oklahoma and even outside the state travel to WW Hastings for care. When patients cannot keep their appointments, the infant mortality rate increases.

“We have obesity as a problem. It’s a factor. The body mass index has increased over the past 30 years or so. ” he said.

He explained that empty calories are harmful to mothers and their children. Births are most successful when the mothers are healthy. He encourages expectant mothers to eat well, eliminate pollutants, exercise if necessary, and see a doctor regularly, including all preventive medical checkups.

“The biggest factor is access to health care, which has improved. Optimistically, the infant mortality rate has fallen. However, compared to other countries we are still behind. Places like Europe, France, England and Germany are ahead of us,” said he.

He cites Europe’s universal health systems as one of the reasons they have the lowest child mortality rates in the world.

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