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Bredesen Joins Infant Mortality ‘Stay the Course’ Summit

Press Release from the Office of Gov. Phil Bredesen, Sept. 13, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today joined Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Dr. Michael Warren, medical director for the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination, for the Infant Mortality Stay the Course Summit 2010 in Memphis. The event highlighted continued efforts to improve infant mortality rates in Tennessee.

“The improvements that have been made as a result of the work of the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination and partnering organizations are a tremendous achievement. We’re here today not only to celebrate that progress but to reaffirm our commitment to this issue,” said Bredesen “While we’ve seen the number of infant deaths decline, we must continue to do everything we can to improve health outcomes for this vulnerable population.”

During today’s summit, Bredesen announced a three-year $1.6 million grant from the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination that will provide continued funding for the Centering Pregnancy and Community Voice programs in Shelby County. These programs are designed to improve birth outcomes and reduce infant mortality rates.

“Infant mortality impacts us all whether we are health providers, community agency workers, government officials, family members, business people, or educators,” said Warren. “It is up to all of us to continue to work together towards a future where more Tennessee babies reach their first birthday. We can do it, and I know this community will continue to lead the way in those efforts.”

The summit highlighted work that has been done to combat infant mortality in Tennessee, progress that has been made and continued efforts for the future. The work and accomplishments of original infant mortality summit pioneers and individuals involved in grassroots efforts were recognized and the program included personal stories of program partners and participants.

Infant mortality is defined as the death of a child before his or her first birthday. Although the rate of infant deaths is declining in Tennessee, statistics show the need for continued efforts to improve birth outcomes. In 2010, Tennessee was ranked 44th in the nation for its infant mortality rate, which represents an improvement from a rank of 47th in 2009.

Following the first infant mortality summit held in April of 2006, Bredesen launched a statewide initiative to combat Tennessee’s crisis of infant mortality. To date, $8.7 million has been spent to improve women’s health and reduce infant mortality in Tennessee, spanning programs in health education, home visiting and clinical care for mothers and babies.

The Office of Children’s Care Coordination provides funding and works with local community programs to help determine the solutions best suited to address the issues unique to individual communities. Many of these programs across the state will be holding special events during Infant Mortality Awareness Month to highlight the infant mortality reduction initiatives in their communities. A schedule of other Infant Mortality Awareness Month activities is online at: http://news.tennesseeanytime.org/node/5862.

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