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UNCP Healthy Start brings awareness to infant mortality


The First Annual Infant Mortality Awareness Symposium was held on September 30 in UNC Pembroke’s Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development at COMtech. More than 50 people attended, including UNCP faculty, staff and students, community partners, supporters, new moms and their babies!

The event was held during Infant Mortality Awareness Month and the National Healthy Start Association campaign, “Celebrate Day 366…every baby deserves a chance.” Infant mortality is the rate at which babies die before their first birthdays.

“In 2010, 29 or the 2,129 babies born in the last year recorded died in Robeson County before their first birthdays, saidDr. Cammie Hunt, associate vice chancellor for UNCP’s Office of Engaged Outreach, in her welcoming remarks.

Healthy Start is dedicated to reducing this number and decreasing the number of low birth-weight babies through home visitations and case management interventions.

“The high rates of infant mortality that are prevalent in many communities such as ours with large minority populations, high rates of unemployment and poverty and limited access to safe housing and medical providers,” said Kay Freeman, Healthy Start director.

Freeman introduced a new poverty reduction curriculum titled “Bridges Out of Poverty” as an intervention strategy. She discussed plans to implement the program with support from partners including the Robeson County Health Department, Rape Crisis Center, March of Dimes, and the Native American Interfaith Ministries (Healing Lodge), in addition to other members of our consortium who may be interested. Presentation topics ranged from promoting first trimester care to domestic violence and substance abuse. Elizabeth Rowell, director of nursing at the Robeson County Health Department, made a presentation during lunch. Other presenters included: Dr. Guo Wei, a grant writer and professor of mathematics at UNCP, and education professor and community activist Dr. Frankie Powell.

State Rep. Garland Pierce and UNCP Provost Dr. Ken Kitts also joined the symposium.

“We look forward to raising even greater awareness about infant mortality by hosting many more events like this in time to come,” Freeman said. “We invite you back again next year

 For more information, contact Kay Freeman at 910.521.6181 or at the Regional Center at COMtech.