Raise Colorado and Children’s Campaign join longtime advocacy efforts to help advance birth equity across Colorado.
Last week, the Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Workgroup (IMMP), a sub-workgroup of Raise Colorado, submitted a letter to the Office of Heath Equity requesting state and local-level shifts to improve birth during the COVID-19 pandemic for all Coloradans, especially those facing the most barriers to safe care. The requests in the letter came out of stakeholder conversations convened by the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment (CDHPE) and Colorado Children’s Campaign in April and May, in which hospital providers and administrators, community birth professionals, and advocates spoke to their most urgent concerns for their birthing community during the pandemic. These recommendations build on early recommendations that we published in Health Affairs and were adopted into state-level COVID-19 guidance by specifically addressing racial inequities and proposing additional state-level solutions.
The barriers identified ranged from a lack of trust in local expertise and community-embedded providers to inequitable distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and frustration with unclear guidance on how to support families who just gave birth and practice infectious control. It was in these conversations IMMP members recognized that, although COVID-19 created some new barriers to safe and equitable care, the pandemic, in large part, exacerbated existing barriers and illuminated gaps in our system, which community-embedded advocates have worked to fill for decades.
To develop these recommendations, IMMP and the Children’s Campaign took this opportunity to learn from longtime birth equity advocates such as Elephant Circle, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and A Mother’s Choice Midwifery. As you will see in the letter, requests to improve birth equity in Colorado include, but go beyond, policy change. For example, the final request asks people in power to begin honoring the expertise of local leaders and to build solutions with them. The sooner we honor the diverse expertise and needs within our state, the sooner we can work together to effect change and meet our goal of a thriving and equitable state in which to live, give birth and grow.