More of Jacksonville’s babies are making it to their first birthday.
The city has seen a significant infant mortality decrease over the past 10 years. In 2009, 40 more babies in Duval County lived to celebrate their first birthdays — a success that the Healthy Start Coalition is proud of and sees a reason for continued community commitment.
“This highlights one of the key factors in the Coalition’s success: our efforts to engage and build awareness in the community around this critical public health issue,” said Rev. Tom Rodgers, a Coalition board member, at a statewide press conference in Tallahassee.
He highlighted several contributing community collaborations, including the JCCI, Inc. infant mortality study, which recently wrapped up its implementation phase; the Black Infant Health Practice Initiative, which Jacksonville was one of eight statewide communities that participated; and the federal Healthy Start program that focuses on preconception health: the Magnolia Project. Additionally, we garnered significant resources to develop and implement a comprehensive education awareness campaign — Make a Noise! Make a Difference! — that successfully reached all segments of our community.
The gains Healthy Start has made aren’t just in Jacksonville. Rev. Rodgers was one of several speakers at the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions’ “Have a Heart, Save a Baby” press conference on Valentine’s Day at the state Capitol Building in Tallahassee. The press conference was held to announce the lowest state infant mortality rate in 20 years and the improved birth outcomes for all races and ethnic groups, and fewer babies were born premature. In addition, significantly fewer died from sleep-related deaths.
Infant mortality is a community problem, and it takes a community to solve it. Many factors contributed to Jacksonville’s success in improving infant health, and the role of community partners in our efforts cannot be ignored. We appreciate and value the many community partners who joined us in our fight against infant mortality.
We are excited and proud of our success in Jacksonville, but we know that the hard work is just beginning. The Coalition will continue to work to ensure EVERY baby born in Florida gets the best possible start in life.
Through a partnership with the Duval County Health Department, the Azalea Project now houses a nurse practitioner (ARNP) to treat various sexually transmitted infections (STIs) twice a week at their 8th street location.
The ARNP will perform counseling, STI testing and STI treatment to those in the surrounding community, as well as those referred by the health department. Clinic hours are Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
STIs and other pre-pregnancy infections are associated with pre-term birth and other poor outcomes. The Coalition’s Fetal & Infant Mortality Review Project identified STIs as a contributing factor to 16 percent of fetal and infant deaths from 2005 to 2010.
The initiative will also be a source to identify substance abusing and pregnant females for follow-up services. The Azalea Project provides outreach, education and support services to high-risk women of childbearing age who are in substance-involved families.
Our babies are dying. Too few of us know. Our babies are dying. Why? Our babies are dying. What can we do?
We can “Make a NOISE. Make a difference.”
The “Make a Noise! Make a Difference!” community awareness and education campaign developed in response to Jacksonville’s high infant mortality rates, especially among African American babies. Town hall meetings in 2008 found that community members thought knowledge was the first step to solving the problem. Once equipped with information, they agreed people must stand up and spread the word about infant mortality.
Currently, the “Make a Noise! Make a Difference!” intervention is targeting residents, students, and leaders in predominantly black communities to become health advocates for their families and neighborhoods. The health advocate curriculum guide, developed by the Magnolia Project, is divided into four sessions: health before pregnancy, health during pregnancy, healthy two and healthy baby. In addition to topics concerning healthy and unhealthy behaviors before and during pregnancy, sessions cover the effect of stress, the role of fathers, the importance of vaccines and the threat of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The goal of the sessions is to empower women to share what they learn with others and refer them to the program.
Most recently, Arlington’s Woodland Acres Elementary School and UNF’s Florida Institute of Education partnered with the campaign to spread the message to children’s parents at their schools, allowing for expanded reach of the Make a NOISE. Make a Difference. campaign in Jacksonville. The initiative will also touch the lives of staff and clients of the Women’s Center of Jacksonville, as well as mentors and Little Sisters of the Jacksonville Birthing Project in the coming months. In the future, the campaign looks to partner with local African-American churches in an effort to involve and engage the faith-based sector.
To get involved with the Make a Noise! Make a Difference! intervention, contact Olivia Gibson at 904.723.5422 ext. 114. With knowledge, empowerment, and resources, we can begin to Make a NOISE. Make a Difference.
The Coalition received funding from the CJ Foundation for SIDs to reprint safe sleep brochures in both English and Spanish. The brochures are available for distribution to providers’ offices and community organizations and can be downloaded here. For hard copies of the brochure, please call 904.723.5422 x112.
Each year, more than 20 babies in Northeast Florida die from sleep-related deaths. Help protect babies by following key safe sleep practices: Alone, on the Back, in the Crib.