City working to improve Black maternal health

Dr. Zahira McNatt says the city is tackling the issue by focusing on social detriments of health, housing, food insecurity and what takes place in medical spaces.

Asha McKenzie and Adolfo Carrion

Apr 14, 2023, 12:27 AM

Updated 426 days ago

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This week marks Black Maternal Health Week and over the last year, New York City has been pushing initiatives to make sure Black women have a fair shot at life during and after pregnancy.
Black women are eight times more likely than their counterparts to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  
Dr. Zahira McNatt, the assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Brooklyn Neighborhood Health at the New York City Department of Health, says the city is tackling the issue by focusing on social detriments of health, housing, food insecurity and what takes place in medical spaces.  
“We launched last year the citywide doula initiative. That gives pregnant persons free access to doulas during their pregnancy, during their birth and during their post-partum period. It gives the pregnant person an ally and an advocate when they enter the hospital during the birthing experience,” said McNatt.  
The DOH has also introduced multiple home visiting programs where nurses go to pregnant people’s homes, offering support, education and access to baby items that are necessities for parents.  
She has one clear message to New York about how important tackling Black maternal mortality is.  
"I think this kind of investment centers the needs of black women and that is not a common act politically or socially or professionally or otherwise,” said McNatt.


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