State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and State Medicaid Director John McCarthy recently announced the release $1,555,177 in state funds for four community-based programs to address the city’s high infant mortality rate.
“Ohio’s high infant mortality rate is not only a family issue, but a community issue,” said Sykes. “These funds will allow our community partners to team up with the Department of Medicaid to educate the public on best practices, raise awareness and come up with solutions to help our most vulnerable population reach their first birthday.”
The projects selected for funding include:
-$299,800 for Mount Calvary Baptist Church/Minority Behavioral Health Group.
-Fame Fathers, Charisma Community Connection, $250,000.
-Akron Summit Community Action Pathways HUB Proposal, $566,983.
-Project Ujima in collaboration with the Summa Center for Health Equity, $438,394.
Ohio ranks 45th in the nation in overall infant mortality with a rate of 6.8 deaths per 1,000 births, and last in African American infant mortality with a rate of 14.3— more than twice the rate of white babies. Akron zip codes 44320 and 44307 have some of the highest rates in the state, where babies are more likely to die before their first birthday than any other region. Central Akron’s infant mortality rate of 14.3 remains far above the national average of 6.0.
Last year, Rep. Sykes and the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) met with community leaders to discuss how Summit County’s high infant mortality rates could be addressed at the local level. Various organizations were invited to create projects and could request funding through the Ohio Medicaid managed care plans.
The projects all address various community needs including spreading educational information about infant mortality, developing support groups for expectant parents and new parents, promoting father involvement and improving access to primary care and social services.
Rep. Sykes has been leading the initiative to combat infant mortality in our state and will continue to focus on reducing the crisis in Akron through these local projects.