Vice President Kamala Harris & 'Married To Medicine' Star Dr. Jackie Walters Discuss Black Maternal
While the country celebrated Mother's Day, Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Jackie Walters discussed the maternal health crisis endangering their lives.
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Who better to lead the charge about health disparities disproportionately killing Black women than the most powerful Black woman in the country? Harris and Married To Medicine's Dr. Jackie took to Instagram to talk about addressing this deadly, but preventable problem.
"On Mother's Day, we celebrate our nation's mothers for the care they give - but we must also rededicate ourselves to making sure they receive the care they need," Harris wrote in the Instagram caption.
"I sat down with OB-GYN @therealdrjackie for a critical conversation about America's maternal health crisis."
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Dr. Jackie is an Atlanta-based OB-GYN who sees the affects of structural medical racism and other disparities on Black women.
"I'm so grateful that you're dealing with something that is just taking our moms," Dr. Jackie said. "Thank you for doing what you're doing.
"It's a time to celebrate mothers for the care that they give and I think this conversation is also about the responsibility we have to care for our mothers," the Vice President added.
As a senator, Vice President Harris joined Congresswomen Lauren Underwood and Alma Adams to introduce the historic Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act. The Act championed by Underwood and Adams, the Black Maternal Health Caucus co-founders, focuses on equitable access to "whole person care" during pregnancy.
"What I want the world to know, and I'm saying it loud, is we are in an intense time of difficulties and trouble and danger when it comes to maternal mortality," Dr. Jackie continued.
There has never been comprehensive federal action to solve our maternal crisis - until the #Momnibus. @AAN_Nursing is proud to support this package of 13 bills led by @RepUnderwood, @RepAdams, and @SenBooker @BMHCaucus. https://t.co/uIBwhPUGQa pic.twitter.com/Qjs6bEqFVO
— American Academy of Nursing (@AAN_Nursing) May 15, 2023
Harris made history with the first Cabinet-level meeting about the maternal health crisis.
Preventable Maternal Complications And Deaths By Numbers And Progress About Expanding Access To Medical Care
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Out of all the developed contries, the U.S. has the highest rate of death from pregnancy-related complications. That includes during pregnancy, or within the first year after giving birth.
"The idea that in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the United States, we have the hightest rates of maternal mortality - that Black women in this country, in this era are 3 timres more likely to die in connection with childbirth. I think it's inexcusable," Harris said.
Black women are 3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related health issues. According to the Population Reference Bureau, Black expectant mothers were almost 6 times more likely to die than white counterparts from cardiac failure and blood pressure disorders preeclampsia and eclampsia.
While Harris fights to address preventable maternal mortality on a national level, Dr. Jackie works to empower patients to advocate for themselves.
"As an OB-GYN, as the health provider for women, my biggest teachable moment to a patient is make sure you feel comfortable with a doctor enough to ask questions," the Bravo star explained.
"I want you to challenge me: 'Why? When? What? Where?' So definitely ask questions and see a doctor who makes you feel safe and supported," Dr. Jackie continued.
In 2021, Harris issued a call to action to expand Medicaid coverage from 2 months to 12 months postpartum
"Thirty-two states have signed on. We need all the states to sign on. We need to let moms know that they're actually entitled to Medicaid coverage for up to 12 months of postpartum care," Harris revealed.
"We also set up a hotline for mothers to have support in terms of emotional and mental health support," she continued. It's 1-833-TLC-MAMA."
Although our current medical system endangers Black women the most, every group urgently needs these improvements. For Native women, they are twice as likely to suffer from maternal mortality. Rural women are 1.5 times as likely. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have increased mortality rates while hospitalized for delivery.
It's crucial that we continue to fight for Black lives to matter in every aspect of life, including medical care.