Department of Health launches initiative

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Last week, the Mississippi State Department of Health announced the launch of Mississippi Sisters United.
According to a release, MSDH’s Office of Health Disparity Elimination was awarded a grant in the amount of $25,0000 from the March of Dimes. These grant funds will be utilized to address the high rate of infant mortality in African-American communities.
The department of health defines infant mortality as the death of a child before the age of one.
The Mississippi Sisters United project is the result of a combined effort between the Mississippi State Department of Health Office of Health Disparity Elimination and the National Pan-Hellenic graduate sorority chapters of Mississippi, the release states.
According to the release, the project is designed after a similar plan was enacted by the Arkansas Department of Health, which was designed to educate and empower the African-American community to reduce their state’s infant mortality rate.
“Mississippi’s African-Americans have an infant mortality rate of 12.6 deaths per 1,000 births compared to 7.3 per 1,000 births for whites. This significant disparity is the driving force for this initiative,” Office Director for the Office of Health Disparity Elimination Tanya Funchess said in the release.
The Mississippi Sisters United Initiative will implement community programs to promote equity in birth outcomes.
The initiative will target safe sleep environments, breastfeeding, folic acid intake and a woman’s healthy weight before, during and after pregnancy by utilizing educational videos and other activities.
For more information on pregnancy and infant mortality, visit For more information about the Sisters United Initiative contact the Office of Health Disparity Elimination at 601-206-1540.

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