Thursday, October 31, 2013

Utah Pacific Islander Infant Mortality Rate Drops

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH), Office of Health Disparities (OHD) has completed a three-year State Partnership Grant from the Federal Office of Minority Health and successfully applied for a new grant. During the recent grant cycle, Utah OHD helped the Utah Pacific Islander community lower its infant mortality rate from 7.4/1,000 births in 2004-2007 to 3.6/1,000 in 2008-2011.  That’s a drop of nearly 48 percent. 

The Office also conducted the first-ever statewide surveillance study of Pacific Islanders in the continental United States, created health promotion videos in English, Samoan, and Tongan, and developed culturally appropriate health promotion and health care referral programs.

“We’re just so excited that Pacific Islander women have been willing to be a part of these projects, that they’re sharing this information with their families, and that our community is making a difference,” said Joyce Ah You, Director of the Queen Center, which has worked closely with OHD and other Pacific Islander groups to address the infant mortality problem.

Utah is one of only 22 states to receive a State Partnership Grant for the next two years. Of the 46 states that were funded during the previous grant cycle, 24 were not refunded. Of the 22 states that received grants, about half received a funding reduction from the previous grant cycle. In contrast, Utah OHD was funded at the same annual level of funding as previously: $130,000/year. 

During the upcoming grant cycle, Utah OHD is seeking to maintain the recent improvement in Pacific Islander infant health and to replicate this success in the Utah African American/Black community. OHD and its partners met their goals for African American/Black infant mortality during the previous grant cycle, reducing the rate from 8.4/1,000 births in 2004-2007 to 7.6/1,000 in 2008-2011. However, the new rate is still much higher than the statewide rate of 5.0/1,000 in 2008-2011.  

Utah OHD is also expanding a project piloted during the previous grant cycle that identifies underserved community members at risk for chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and then links them to health care providers.

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The mission of the Utah Department of Health is to protect the public's health through preventing avoidable illness, injury, disability and premature death, assuring access to affordable, quality health care, and promoting healthy lifestyles.