Things are looking up for mothers and babies in the fight to reduce chronic discrimination in healthcare, specifically in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Today the March of Dimes released its enhanced implicit bias training to address disparities in healthcare. The newly configured “Awareness to Action: Dismantling Bias in Maternal and Infant Healthcare™” available virtually as a 1.5-hour e-learning module or as a 3-4 hour in-person class. This module is released just in time for Black Maternal Health Week, which is recognized every year from April 11-17.
According to the March of Dimes, “the U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations for women to give birth.” The latest 2021 March of Dimes Report Card shows Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women and their babies, consistently have worse health outcomes than their white peers. Additionally, there are a few intersecting factors that contribute to these outcomes, such aas a variation in quality healthcare, structural racism, and implicit bias, to name a few. The good news is that these issues are being mitigated by raising more awareness and implementing equitable systems. The key to making substantive long lasting changes are rooted in policy, institutions, and by working in tandem with the communities they serve.
What exactly is implicit bias? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines implicit bias as a bias or prejudice that is present but not consciously held or recognized. We all have them, and they are typically created by our culture, rooted in our upbringing, and informed by the larger society. The danger is when healthcare professionals, knowingly or unknowingly,are affected by them and treat patients from a place of prejudice. Studies show that the outcomes of implicit bias can prove deadly. Ironically, these biases traverse across all races, gender, and socioeconomic status, while administering the harshest blow to women of color, which signifies a necessary and much-needed change at the structural level.
The “Awareness to Action: Dismantling Bias in Maternal and Infant Healthcare™ aims to define implicit bias, describe structural racism, apply strategies, and commit to a culture of equity.
I am among many African American women who have felt unheard, dismissed, and not taken seriously when relaying concerns to my physician during my pregnancy, and I had outstanding health insurance. Yet, I believe that not being heard attributed to my symptoms of depression during my first pregnancy and extended my postpartum symptoms long after.
Thankfully, advocates like Black Mamas Matter Alliance are working hard to deepen the conservation around Black maternal health and work towards parity in treatment for women of color. Pregnancy is a time of excitement, and Black women can be made to feel as if motherhood is a burden. Disparities in healthcare stops now, and it will take all of us becoming more informed and knowing how to take action.
For information on how you can get involved, get help, or raise awareness, you can visit:
“Awareness to Action: Dismantling Bias in Maternal and Infant Healthcare™” visit: marchofdimes.org/implicitbiastraining.
CDC Black Maternal Health Week information: https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/maternal-mortality/index.html