The Nisqually Tribal Health and Wellness Center is one of five organizations that received funding from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) through the Birth Equity Project.
The tribe will receive up to $200,000 per fiscal year for two and half years. The funds will be used to support efforts to “continue providing culturally responsive services to pregnant and birthing people to help them receive the best care possible,” according to a news release from DOH. “The funded projects include doula work, an evidence-based strategy to reduce maternal mortality.”
The money awarded to the health and wellness center will help with perinatal health services for American Indian and Alaska Natives who live in Thurston County and to members of the Nisqually Indian Tribe.
“DOH’s Birth Equity Project funding seeks to address and reduce the racism faced by birth workers and families of the priority communities and improve birth outcomes,” stated the news. “DOH is investing in community-based birth worker organizations helping close the gaps through culturally responsive care.”
The release stated Washington Native American and Alaska Native populations experienced the highest infant mortality rate in the state in 2019. They have also experienced higher maternal mortality rates than other race or ethnic groups, stated the release.
“These differences have remained relatively constant over the past two decades and are linked to a long history of racism and institutional and systemic practices in health systems,” stated the release. “Our research shows that perinatal health, birth outcomes, and infant mortality rates are connected to the quality of medical care access, health status, and public health policies and practices. Poor health outcomes during pregnancy, at birth, postpartum, and in infants are largely preventable through public health measures.”
The four other organizations that received funding were Ayan Maternity Health Care Support, BLKBRY, Shades of Motherhood, and the Spokane Tribal Network.
“Through this funding, we are strengthening the network of community-based organizations providing critical support and culturally responsive care to Washington’s birthing families to help them have healthy starts and the opportunity to achieve their full health potential,” stated Lacy Fehrenbach, the chief of prevention, safety and health at the Washington State Department of Health.
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