News Conference at Black Maternal Health Summit

22 Oct, 22

Summit Addresses Health Disparities among County’s African-American Women

WHAT: Harris county Commissioner Rodney Ellis, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Harris County Public Health (HCPH) Executive Director Barbie Robinson will hold a news conference at the Black Maternal Health Summit that HCPH is hosting to address the health inequities and disparities among African-American women. Maternal health experts nationwide will discuss the factors affecting Black pregnant women in Harris County. In Harris County, Black women have the highest pregnancy-related mortality rate at 83.4 deaths per 100,000 live births between 2016 and 2020.

WHO: Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
HCPH Executive Director Barbie Robinson

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 22, 10:15 a.m.

WHERE: University of Houston Student Center | 4455 University Dr., Houston, TX 77204

Three months after Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis recommended Commissioners Court’s approval of a $7.7 million investment in a Maternal and Child Health Program, Harris County Public Health is hosting a summit that addresses health inequities and disparities among Black women.

“Right here in Harris County, we are working to combat one of the highest rates of maternal morbidity in the U.S.,” said Commissioner Ellis, who will deliver welcoming remarks and participate in a news conference Saturday morning. “In one of the wealthiest countries in the nation and in a city with top-tier research universities and the largest medical center in the world, there is no reason for mothers, especially Black mothers, to not be going home from the hospital with their families after birth.”

The Black Maternal Health Summit – with the theme “The Time Is Now: Understanding the Black Maternal Health Crisis in Harris County” – was developed as part of the Maternal and Child Health Program that Commissioners Court funded in July as a pilot program to improve maternal and infant health countywide. The County is using $7.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The Maternal and Child Health Program will serve 300 households over five years in an expanded maternal health program focused on home visits by trained community health worker who will help families achieve goals and navigate referral processes in prenatal care.

In Harris County, Black mothers and infants are most at risk, Commissioner Ellis said. In 2020, Texas’ Black maternal mortality rate was 81.47 per 100,000 live births. Compared to Harris County, the Black maternal mortality rate was 106.01 per 100,000 live births. In Harris County from 2016 to 2020, Precinct One had the highest rate of maternal mortality.

The Black Maternal Health Summit, which ends Saturday, will educate key stakeholders on critical topics involving Black maternal and child health to foster better health outcomes.

“Programs like these are even more important in this political climate, where politicians are forcing women to carry pregnancies to term, even in the case of rape and incest. But this program and others are on the chopping block if my colleagues on Commissioners Court force our county to make massive budget cuts to public health,” Commisioner Ellis said.

Commissioner Ellis is referring to the ongoing budget dispute in which two Republican commissioners have skipped meetings to prevent Commissioners Court from adopting a tax rate need to adequately fund vital services such as health care, public safety, violence prevention and flood protection.