“It’s a tragedy because these deaths are preventable,” Phil Farrell,
From 2004-06, the infant mortality rate for black children in
“This is a public health emergency,” Farrell said in the statement. “There were more African-American infant deaths in
The initiative will focus on the Southeast region of the state, where 92 percent of black infant deaths occur statewide.
It will concentrate specifically on
The rate in
Sen. Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison, said the committee’s decision is an important acknowledgment of a public health crisis exacerbated by inadequate health care.
“Infant mortality is a complex problem that has many roots and many solutions,” Helen Roys said. “One of the things we could really do is try to increase access to health services that help women plan their pregnancies. We need better prenatal healthcare.”
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, attributed infant mortality for all races and ethnicities to pregnancies out of wedlock.
“I never like it when they talk about race being a factor,” Grothman said. “I know it’s old-fashioned, but we’ve got to do a better job of sending the message that you should get married before you get pregnant.”
The Oversight and Advisory Committee of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health governs the Wisconsin Partnership Program.
The program’s funding comes from an endowment created when Blue Cross and Blue Shield United of Wisconsin converted to a for-profit entity.
It was announced in January current grants included in the endowment will be cut by 15 and 20 percent after the endowment’s value shrunk from $358 million in 2007 to $272 million at the end of last year.
The cuts will not influence funding for new programs such as the lower infant mortality initiative.
— Rachel Vesco contributed to this report.