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.