Sykes Introduces Bill To Reduce Ohio's Infant Mortality Rate
Legislation will require cultural competency training for healthcare professionals

State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today announced the introduction of House Bill 514, legislation aimed at reducing Ohio’s high infant mortality rate. The bill will require health care professionals to complete instruction in cultural competency in order to receive or renew their license, certification or registration. 

“Requiring cultural competency training will help health care professionals better communicate with their patients, and in turn help reduce Ohio’s abysmal infant mortality rate,” said Sykes. “This legislation is a good first step to ensuring Ohio babies can live happier, healthier lives.”

Ohio is ranked 45th in the nation for overall infant mortality rates. In 2013, African American babies born in Ohio were more likely to die in their first year of life than any other baby born in the United States. Central Akron’s infant mortality rate is 14.3, far above the national average of 6.0.

“Cultural competency training will assist healthcare providers in gaining the knowledge needed to successfully serve all patients within our communities and help eliminate health disparities in Ohio,” said Sykes. “This legislation will work to eliminate barriers that prevent individuals from receiving the quality healthcare they need and deserve.”

House Bill 514 follows a March report by the Ohio Commission on Infant Mortality, which contained over 50 recommendations to address infant mortality. The recommendations fall under four main categories: addressing the social determinants of health, building on proven interventions, making health system improvements, and improving the collection and sharing of data.

Also in March, Rep. Sykes and State Medicaid Director John McCarthy announced the release $1,555,177 in state funds for four community-based programs to address the city of Akron’s high infant mortality rate. 

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