Advocacy Efforts

Behind The Headlines about Maternal Mortality

Read full interview here:

Neel Shah, MD, MPP, is Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School, and co-founder of the March for Moms. He’s also working with IHI on the Better Maternal Outcomes Rapid Improvement Network, a new initiative to improve outcomes for women and babies in the US and reduce disparities in maternal health. In the following interview, Shah debunks many assumptions about the current crisis of maternal morbidity and mortality in the US.

Mayor’s Commission on HealthCare Systems Transformation

On June 3rd, Mayor Bowser established the Mayor’s Commission on HealthCare Systems Transformation. The Commission will provide recommendations on strategies and investments necessary to transform health care delivery in the District of Columbia. The Commission’s work will focus on the following issues: improving access to primary, acute, and specialty care services, including behavioral health care; addressing health system capacity issues for inpatient, outpatient, pre-hospital and emergency room services; and promoting an equitable geographic distribution of acute care and specialty services in communities east of the Anacostia river. The Developing Families Center is pleased to share this exciting news, as the Commission’s work will undoubtedly support our community. The Commission will be comprised of 27 Board Members and include DFC’s current Board Member, Kelly McShane of Community of Hope. Congratulations, Kelly!

To learn more, click here.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Maternal & Infant Health Summit

On September 12, 2018 Mayor Bowser hosted Washington, DC’s first-ever Maternal and Infant Health Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center with mayors and leaders from across the country, including the African American Mayors Association. The summit provided leaders and experts an opportunity to discuss best infant and maternal health practices and develop a nationwide agenda that addresses the dis-proportionally high rates of maternal mortality experienced by people of color in Washington, DC and across the nation.

For link to watch summit event please click here:
DC Maternal Health

Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation finalized and published its evaluation for the full performance period in November 2018. 

The Strong Start study goals included:

Goal 1:  Improve quality of care and reduce rates of preterm birth and low birth weight infants

Goal 2:  Reduce costs to Medicaid during pregnancy, birth, and the infant’s first year

KEY TAKEAWAYS from this five year study:
Women who received prenatal care in Strong Start Birth Centers had better birth outcomes and lower costs relative to similar Medicaid beneficiaries not enrolled in Strong Start. In particular, rates of preterm birth, low birth weight, and cesarean section were lower among Birth Center participants, and costs were more than $2,000 lower per mother-infant pair during birth and the following year.

These promising Birth Center results may be useful to state Medicaid programs seeking to improve the health outcomes of their covered populations.

To review the Findings at a Glance, please click here:

To read the full report, please click here:

Volume 1:

Volume 2:

The D.C. Women’s Health Improvement Project

Human-Centered Solutions to Improve Reproductive and Maternal Health Outcomes in Washington, D.C.

The D.C. Women’s Health Improvement Project is championed by the D.C. Primary Care Association.  The project seeks to design human-centered policies and programmatic solutions to improve reproductive and maternal health outcomes in Washington, D.C.

DC has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.

  • Death rates are even higher among women of color.
  • Racism leads to racial differences in maternal health outcomes.
  • Rates of newborn deaths, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases also remain high.
  • Pregnancy intention is influenced by a complex mix of personal, cultural, economic, and social factors.

Top 3 Recommendations  from Study

1. Expand Centering Pregnancy and invest in personnel to ensure coordinated, quality care. 

2. Invest in a Women’s Health Improvement Collaborative and Innovation Lab. 

3. Create and test a respectful care toolkit and training for providers.

Link :

Health Equity Report:
Social Determinants of Health in Washington DC

District of Columbia 2018


The Office of Health Equity within the DC Department of Health issued at the close of calendar year 2018, their Health Equity Report addressing the social determinants of health in Washington DC. The department also issued a Summary Report found here: DOH Health Equity Report

The overarching goals of the report include:

  • Develop a baseline assessment of social determinants of health in the District of Columbia
  • Inform the narrative regarding improving opportunities for health and achieving health equity
  • Engage a broad spectrum of the community in essential multi-sectorial solution development

They also address the critical question: What Drives Health?

The report provides six key insights:

  • Health is more than healthcare
  • Health inequities are neither natural nor inevitable
  • Your zip-code may be more important than your genetic code for health
  • The choices we make are shaped by the choices we have
  • Structural racism acts as a force in the distribution of opportunities for health
  • All policy is health policy

Community health is explored within the report through the lens of nine key drivers as:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Income
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Food Environment
  • Medical Care
  • Outdoor Environment
  • Community Safety

District of Columbia Maternal Mortality Review Committee

Created by Council of the District of Columbia Act A22-0315 in FY2018, the  Maternal Mortality Review Committee was established within the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner  to determine the causes associated with maternal mortalities of District residents.  This includes those occurring  in the District, to describe and record any trends, data, or patterns that are observed surrounding maternal mortalities, to create a strategic framework for improving maternal health outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities in the District, to recommend training to improve the identification, investigation, and prevention of maternal mortalities, and make publicly available an annual report of its findings, recommendations, and steps taken to evaluate implementation of past recommendations.

To read Act A22-0315 please visit: