All babies born in Missouri deserve to make it to their first birthday and beyond in good health. Yet, far too many children in our state do not reach that milestone - a heartbreaking tragedy - and a sobering marker of our community's overall health. The problem of infant mortality is more pronounced in two regions of Missouri - the Bootheel in the southeast and in St. Louis' north city and county areas.
Overall rates have declined since our Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative began five years ago. The Bootheel saw a reduction from 16 deaths in 2016 to four in 2017. That year there were zero black baby deaths, which have historically occurred in the Bootheel at twice the rate of white babies. In St. Louis, despite the decline in the overall rate, the gap between white and black infant deaths had widened further. In response, collaborative partners are concentrating solely on the needs of black babies and aiming for absolutely no racial disparities in infant mortality by 2033. Both communities are now focusing their work to promote racial equity.
Another natural outgrowth of this type of collective impact work involves transferring decision-making over the distribution of resources to the communities leading and engaging in the initiative. In 2018, the IMRI evolved in ways we know will be most beneficial to growing babies, and we're enthusiastic about the future of participatory grantmaking.
We're excited to see communities becoming empowered, as we know they are the true experts in assessing and responding to their own health needs.