Black maternal health remains of critical importance for the Black community and those who understand the dire need to address a maternal mortality gap that continues to persist in this country. Understanding this need, CAMBA, one of New York’s largest community-based social services organizations, joined with New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett and UnitedHealth Group Chief Medical Officer Dr. Margaret-Mary Wilson this week for a community conversation to address the nation’s ongoing Black maternal health crisis. The event featured a screening of the powerful documentary film, Bearing the Burden: Black Mothers in America, which highlights the crisis faced by Black mothers and parents.

“Through our on-site support services, we’re working every day to decrease the maternal morbidity rate and improve child health outcomes in the communities we serve,” said CAMBA President & CEO Joanne M. Oplustil. 

America’s maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the developed world, and they are particularly high among Black women. For years, data has shown that Black women are at an elevated risk of dying from pregnancy complications. But despite the matter receiving considerable attention from notable organizations and advocates like Serena Williams and Allyson Felix, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that two out of three of these deaths remain preventable. In New York City, Black women are eight times more likely than their white peers to die from a pregnancy-related cause.

“We at UnitedHealth Group are committed to improving maternal health outcomes and access to care by collaborating with community-based organizations like CAMBA to develop programs that make a measurable impact in addressing this very real problem,” said Dr. Wilson, Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealth Group. “Health equity is at the core of what we do. The United Health Foundation’s partnership with CAMBA is an example of our mission in action.”

In May 2021, the United Health Foundation—the philanthropic foundation of UnitedHealth Group—awarded a three-year, $3 million grant to CAMBA to improve access to high-quality prenatal care for underserved women. The grant partnership is aimed at reducing maternal morbidity and improving child health outcomes by utilizing community health workers, doulas, tele-health and future mobile van care. Goals for the partnership also include increasing the number of women and families moving into safe and permanent housing.

“Access to good, quality maternal healthcare should be guaranteed to every pregnant New Yorker,” said Dr. Bassett. “The Department is committed to examining the root causes of systemic inequities that influence Black maternal health to stop the senseless cycle of loss. Together, with our community partners, we are implementing critical best practices, such as expanding postpartum coverage and other supports post-delivery, that will directly affect health outcomes for both mother and child.”