It Takes A Village: Giving Our Babies the Best Chance
Topic Area: Equity & Anti-Racism Safe and Connected Communities Health Promotion & Communication Birth Outcomes
When the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Office of Health Disparities (OHD) disaggregated maternal and infant health statistics for Asians and Pacific Islanders in 2010, the birth outcomes disparities for Pacific Islanders (PIs) were shocking. This prompted the first Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) statewide survey in 2011 for PIs in English, Tongan, and Samoan. A pilot project in 2015 and two additional phases of cohorts from 2016 through 2018 culminated in the It Takes a Village (ITAV): Giving our babies the best chance project. ITAV is a community education and engagement series that raises awareness about maternal and infant health in the context of Pacific Islander cultural beliefs and practices. Four workshops are facilitated by trained community members and include informative presentations, interactive activities, and assignments. The workshops also include videos that feature all-PI community members. What is really unique and innovative about the ITAV project is its thorough anthropological approach. Most prominent is its cultural framework, which mirrors the Pacific way of life. Participants join a village, which establishes the communal bond found throughout the Pacific. They become members of the village council, the governing body in the islands for important village issues. Finally, they gather in village meetings or fono, the venue for addressing village issues. The ITAV project borrows from traditional Pacific systems for resolving community problems in order to appropriately break the silence surrounding infant mortality and other birth outcomes disparities.
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