SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black babies are dying two times the rate of white babies and three times the rate of Asian American babies.
Black mothers are also dying nearly three times the rate of white mothers, according to the CDC.
“When I hear those numbers, it’s very disheartening,” said Sharee Wilburn Vance. “I know how hard it is to deal with the loss of a child.”
Vance told FOX40 that she has had a stillbirth and lost a second baby to sudden infant death syndrome.
Moving through the trauma, she’s now a mother of three.
“Being given the gift to be a mom is like an experience that you can’t even explain,” Vance said.
Vance has turned her past pain into passion by working with pregnant Black women who are facing higher infant and maternal mortality.
She works as a Sistah-Coach with the Perinatal Equity Initiative.
“We help moms with education, resources in the community, and we offer support for pregnancy all the way up to the child’s first year of birth,” Vance explained.
The initiative has partnered with San Joaquin County Health Services to launch a new Rally Around Our Sisters campaign aimed at raising awareness and combating bad outcomes.
“If they’re not being heard, we can email your doctor, go to the doctor with you and help them get the questions and answers met,” Vance said.
Vance said having fewer financial resources, mental stress and lack of proper nutrition all contribute to the high mortality rates, but she said the biggest factor is institutional racism in health care.
“We want to be treated fairly and with respect, dignity,” Vance explained. “Just see us as a mother carrying a child who just wants to have a healthy birth.”