WASHINGTON, July 22, 2009 // -- National leaders in maternal health, health disparities and public policy will look for ways to combat the devastating impact of preterm births on communities of color at a summit today co-convened by The AMERIGROUP Public Policy Institute and the Black Leadership Forum, Inc. and hosted by the Developing Families Center in Northeast, Washington, D.C., an integrated family health, social supports/case management and early childhood development center.
The summit will feature presentations by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. The event will highlight initiatives that help mothers give birth to full-term, healthy babies and encourage the spread of these programs, a step that could significantly improve the long-term health of African Americans and other minorities. More than 530,000 babies are born preterm (earlier than 37 weeks gestation) every year, and the preterm birth rate among African Americans is 18.5 percent. Studies have found babies born preterm are more susceptible to a range of childhood diseases and lingering health problems including neurological and physical disabilities. One-third of all infant mortalities in the United States are due to prematurity.
"Every child in America should get a healthy start in life, but the stark reality is that far too many do not," said James G. Carlson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMERIGROUP. "In particular, it is an injustice that almost one out of every five African American children is born prematurely and begins life facing a host of serious health problems. And it is unacceptable to allow this to continue. We are confident that the group attending this summit today will spark the dialogue, and action, to help mothers and babies get the care they deserve. Though the issue here may not be new, all of us have not been as effective and systemic as we need to be to adequately address the problem."
"We are pleased to join with AMERIGROUP in confronting the critical national problem of preterm births," said Gary L. Flowers, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc. "As AMERIGROUP, the Black Leadership Forum, and participating organizations address premature births, it reflects the maturity in purpose for the potential of human life."
Specifically, the summit will look at public policy and programmatic solutions to address this issue. Confirmed participants, in order of appearance, include:
- Ruth Watson Lubic, Founder of The Developing Families Center, host to the summit;
- James G. Carlson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AMERIGROUP Corporation;
- Jermane Bond, PhD, Research Associate, Health Policy Institute, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies;
- Rosemary Higgins, MD, Program Scientist, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Neonatal Research Network;
- Linda Randolph, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Developing Families Center; and
- Xina Eiland, MHA, Consultant, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.
About the Black Leadership Forum, Inc.
The Black Leadership Forum, Inc. is an alliance of over 30 national African American civil rights and service organizations in the United States of America. Member organizations are strategically linked together to strategically advocate for the legislative and policy interests of Black people on the international, congressional, state, county, and municipal level.
About the AMERIGROUP Public Policy Institute
The Public Policy Institute, a joint venture of AMERIGROUP Corporation and the AMERIGROUP Foundation, examines a wide range of issues related to Medicaid, Medicare and other government healthcare programs that serve almost 100 million Americans. The Institute's goal is to identify, assess and promote innovative solutions that help control the cost of Medicaid and Medicare and that help Americans who depend on these programs live healthier, more independent lives.
About AMERIGROUP Corporation
AMERIGROUP Corporation, headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, improves healthcare access and quality for the financially vulnerable, seniors and people with disabilities by developing innovative managed health services for the public sector. Through its subsidiaries, AMERIGROUP Corporation serves approximately 1.7 million people in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. For more information, visit www.amerigroupcorp.com.
About the AMERIGROUP Foundation
The AMERIGROUP Foundation is the philanthropic arm of AMERIGROUP Corporation. The Foundation works to create healthy communities by fostering access to healthcare, encouraging safe and healthy children and families, and promoting community improvement and healthy neighborhoods. For more information about the AMERIGROUP Foundation, visit www.amerigroupcorp.com/foundation.