AMCHP Urges Congress to Support ‘a National Vision’ to Prevent Maternal Deaths
August 02, 2018

Association’s expert on women’s health touts life-saving work of maternal mortality review committees in congressional briefing sponsored by Rep. Krishnamoorthi

The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs encouraged Congress to strengthen efforts by states to prevent maternal mortality by increasing federal support to understand why mothers are dying and what we can collectively do to turn the trend around.

“The United States’ rising maternal mortality rate, as reported from national surveillance systems, continues to generate alarm and confusion,” Andria Cornell, AMCHP’s senior program manager for women’s health, said during her presentation at the July 23 briefing, Maternal Mortality: Legislative and Government Action to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes, sponsored by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.).

Explaining the limitations of national surveillance systems, Cornell said that “it is for these reasons that maternal mortality review committees are so vital to the prevention of maternal mortality.”

While the committees work on the state or local jurisdictional level, Cornell urged federal support for: “a national vision and language” for how to quantify, characterize, and prevent maternal deaths; a baseline of authority and protections for review committees; and adherence to best practices for operating a review and implementation of evidence-based programs. That, she said, will accelerate progress toward:

  • Every state having a review committee,
  • Every state being able to sustain that review committee and adhere to best practices, and
  • Every state using the same way of collecting and analyzing data.

Cornell emphasized that maternal mortality review is an ongoing process that cannot end with gathering information about and categorizing deaths.

“Maternal mortality review is a cyclical process and cannot end at simply counting and characterizing deaths,” she said. “It is the action that is taken from the review process – putting the recommendations of the committee to work in hospitals, communities, or policies – that is the return on the investment of the review committee.”