Out of 36 similarly developed countries, the United States’ maternal mortality rate ranks thirty-sixth. The coronavirus worsened an already dire situation, pushing the maternal mortality rate to 32.9 per 100,000 births in 2021 from 20.1 per 100,000 live births in 2019. Last year, the United States’ preterm birth rate hit a 15-year high with a rate of 10.5%, the implications of which include higher rates of infant death and long-term disability.
Systematically embedded within these poor outcomes are generations of inequities experienced by communities of color. Black and Native American women are currently 62% more likely to have a preterm birth, and Black women die at three times the rate of white women during childbirth. Although exacerbated by the pandemic, inequities caused by systemic racism long predate it.
If who can access and get equitable care is a problem, so is where that care gets delivered. Recognizing that two out of three maternal deaths occur in the communities where women work and live—not in clinical settings, our investments are community- and infrastructure-based—supporting new workforces, restructuring payment systems, and advancing policies that support more compassionate, equitable, and sustainable care.