WASHINGTON – The Howard University Women’s Health Center of Excellence, sponsored by DC Health, is holding a week of events in commemoration of Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17). According to the Black Mammas Matter Alliance, this year's theme is "Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!"
The week-long campaign was founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) to build awareness, activism, and community-building to amplify the voices, perspectives and lived experiences of Black mothers and birthing people.
The Howard events were organized by Eve Boyle, PhD, associate director of training and engagement strategy for the Howard University Centers of Excellence, in collaboration with dozens of partner organizations.
“The maternal mortality rate for Black women in Washington continues to be among the worst in the nation, and mothers in Ward 7 and Ward 8 are particularly affected by issues such as delayed prenatal care and preventable pregnancy complications,” Boyle said. “No one institution or intervention is going to solve this. We are hosting this week of events to bring together maternal health experts, community organizations, healthcare providers, birth workers, and DC residents to not just raise awareness, but to determine ways to move forward on collaborative initiatives that will make a real change.”
The week was formally recognized by the Biden-Harris Administration in 2022. Hugh Mighty, MD, Howard University senior vice president of health affairs, is also calling the Washington community to action.
“Mothers and healthy babies are the foundation of a healthy society,” Mighty said. “The continued poor outcomes for Black pregnant women and their infants demand a constant call to action until we make a significant difference.”
The events are summarized as follows:
Tuesday, April 11 – Kickoff event and keynote address – noon to 2 p.m.
This event is open to all members of the Howard University community, DC residents, and community organizations dedicated to supporting the health and wellness of Black mothers. It will take place at the Centers of Excellence Lobby at 2301 Georgia Ave NW, and lunch will be provided. RSVP is required.
The kickoff event will feature remarks from:
- Hugh Mighty, MD, Howard University senior vice president of health affairs
- Guoyang Luo, MD, director of the Women's Health Center of Excellence, Howard University
- Boyle, who will give brief history of Black Maternal Health Week
- Layo George, founder and CEO of Wolomi, who will give the keynote address
Wednesday, April 12 – Ward 8 Maternal Health Summit – 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Ward 8 Maternal Health Summit will occur at The Well at Oxon Run (300 Valley Ave SE, Washington, DC 20032) from 1 p.m. to 4 pm on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. The event is a collaboration between the Ward 8 Health Council and the Howard University Women's Health Center of Excellence. All providers, community stakeholders, and Ward 8 residents, especially mothers, are welcome to attend.
The first half of the event will be a conversation about maternal health needs in Ward 8, with tea and water provided. Rochanda Mitchell, MD, from the Women’s Health Center of Excellence, will participate. The second half of the event will be a health fair and resource exchange, with more than 30 stakeholders, community organizations, and health providers.
Thursday, April 13 – Doulas 101 and Yoga at Martha’s Table - 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
This event is open to participants of Martha's Table programs, in collaboration with the Howard University Women’s Health Center of Excellence. Howard University Women’s Health CPE perinatal health specialist Erin Clark will address the importance of doula support across the reproductive health journey. Afterwards, Nova of Cosmotionz will lead participants through a relaxing yoga session.
Friday, April 14 – Community Baby Shower – 3 to 5 pm
The Community Baby Shower event on Friday April 14, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. This event will bring community organizations, health agencies, and companies from around DC, as well as national stakeholders, to the table to increase awareness for products that support Black mothers during and after their pregnancies. It is open to everyone, including Howards students, staff, faculty, and DC residents.
The event will take place outdoors on the front plaza of Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC. In the event of rain, the event will be held at 2301 Georgia Ave NW, inside the Centers of Excellence lobby.
Participating organizations include:
Ergobaby. Sisters in Loss. Wolomi. Flowers by Alexes. The Museum for Black Girls. Mamatoto Village. Mary’s Center. Black Women’s Wellness. Agency EdCoSpace. Total Family Care Coalition. Momspace & Co. District Motherhued. Martha’s Table. Project WISH. Help Me Grow. PRAMS.
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced two Schwarzman Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American PhD. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.
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