The in Battle Creek, Michigan, has announced a $2.75 million grant to the to implement a three-year infant mortality initiative.
The Best Babies Zone initiative aims to help improve birth outcomes for infants and address health disparities in four U.S. cities: Cincinnati, Milwaukee, New Orleans, and Oakland. If successful, the initiative is expected to serve as a blueprint for site development and implementation in other cities across the country.
Like the , BBZ will take a holistic approach to improving health systems by boosting access to quality prenatal and intrapartum care, providing pipelines to educational success beginning with quality early learning opportunities, and strengthening economic systems through microfinance, job readiness, and financial management programs. To be administered by the School of Public Health at Cal, the initiative will work to improve infant mortality rates through three primary strategies: identifying a small zone where change is greatly needed and resources are aligned to produce and measure impact; forming a broad collaborative to work across health, economics, education, and community to achieve collective impact; and cultivating a social movement within a city to do whatever is needed to improve birth outcomes in that area.
A consortium of national organizations including the , and the will provide support to the effort.
"Infant mortality is a powerful measure of the social inequities that exists in our nation," says Dr. Cheri Pies, clinical professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and principal investigator for the initiative. "The goal of the Best Babies Zone Initiative is to close the infant mortality gap by helping communities build capacities so that babies are born into communities that enable them to thrive and reach their full potential."