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Buncombe County Selected for CityMatCH Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes


City MatCH Fourth Cohort Convening

Buncombe County Selected for CityMatCH Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes

Buncombe County has been selected as one of six communities nationwide to participate in the fourth cohort of the CityMatCH Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes. The other five communities selected in this cohort are Knoxville, Tennessee; Fort Worth, Texas; Akron, Ohio; and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. CityMatCH is a national learning collaborative of city and county health departments’ maternal and child health programs and leaders working to promote equity and improve the health of urban women, families, and communities.

Buncombe County will join this nationwide collaborative of local public health departments and multi-sector partners to implement data-informed, community-driven strategies to reduce inequities in birth outcomes in Buncombe County, especially for African American babies. The most recent 2018 Buncombe County Community Health Assessment showed that black babies are nearly 4 times more likely to die in the first year of life than white babies. In response to this persistent and increasing inequity, Buncombe County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) partners have committed to advancing equity in birth outcomes and infant mortality over the next 10 years.

Multi-sector partnerships are crucial to addressing this serious and complex issue. Buncombe County's Health Director, Jan Shepard, emphasizes this, saying, “There are unforgivable health inequities in our nation, our state, and in our own county related to childbirth and how the women who carry these precious lives experience differences in health outcomes based on race, ethnicity, and economic status. We believe that the expert support from CityMatCH’s Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes and learning alongside colleagues across the country can help us make progress in the important work of addressing inequities in health. We are committed to cross-sector collaboration with community partners to develop and implement strategies that undo racism and ensure all community members have the opportunities and resources they need to thrive.”

The Buncombe County CityMatCH co-leads are Zo Mpofu of Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) and Hannah Legerton of Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC). The home team partners include Asheville-Buncombe Institute for Parity Achievement (ABIPA),  BCHHS Nurse Family Partnership, MAHEC, Pisgah Legal Services, SistasCaring4Sistas, and YWCA Asheville. All of these organizations join forces through Mothering Asheville, a collaborative community-centered health movement focused on eliminating inequities in infant mortality in Buncombe County.

In August, Buncombe County CityMatCH team members attended a 4-day kickoff session where they connected with national leaders in the field and other communities across the country to learn more about strategies and best practices that are working to advance equity in birth outcomes. Over the next three years, this group will participate in and receive training to strengthen local equity-focused community health improvement efforts. Technical assistance and cohort learning will help to maximize, leverage, and accelerate CHIP’s efforts towards improving equity in birth outcomes, with a focus on promoting authentic community engagement and racial healing.

For more information on the CHIP, the Community Health Assessment and other population health initiatives, please visit www.buncombecounty.org/chip.