WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is awarding the New Mexico Department of Health $298,989 for the state’s agencies and organizations that coordinate and manage Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs). The funding is awarded through the CDC’s Enhancing Reviews and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality (ERASE MM) Program and will be used to study maternal mortality cases and identify prevention practices that can put a stop to these tragic deaths.
“Right now, more women die from pregnancy-related deaths in the United States than in any other developed country. We are especially failing our Native and minority communities where women face maternal mortality rates significantly higher than the national average,” said Udall. “This funding is an important step forward in our fight to keep mothers safe during pregnancy and during the critical period after childbirth. Better data will help to ensure that New Mexican healthcare providers know the best methods of care to give mothers across our state, including in our most rural and at-risk communities.”
“With maternal mortality rates rising in many areas of the country, particularly in New Mexico, this funding comes at a crucial time,” said Heinrich. “Reducing the rates of unnecessary childbirth interventions and improving the quality of care to achieve better health outcomes are critical to improving the well-being of women and newborns. I will continue to support these awards and help ensure that families in New Mexico are provided care for the healthy start they need to grow and thrive.”
“The United States’ high rates of maternal mortality are a tragedy within our medical system and communities, impacting women of color, women in rural areas, and poor women especially cruelly. I am proud that New Mexico is receiving this investment so we can provide solutions through research and science to stop the tragic deaths of mothers,” said Luján.
“Every baby and mother deserve to thrive, but there are times in our state that the system fails families and women perish during childbirth. With this funding, we’ll be able to prevent maternal mortality and ensure moms and babies are healthy,” said Haaland who is a Vice Chair of the Democratic Congressional Women’s Caucus.
“The news of a pregnancy is often a joyous occasion, but for many, accessing the care they need to stay healthy is filled with challenges. As I have traveled across New Mexico, I have consistently heard from expectant mothers about the shortages of doctors and hospitals in rural areas and how they’ve had to drive for hours and across state lines for every single prenatal appointment. Maternal mortality is on the rise in the United States, disproportionately affecting rural communities and women of color, and worsened by an increasing lack of access to maternity care in rural areas. That is unacceptable. As I work to introduce legislation to address this issue, the newest funds are welcome news and will help New Mexico provide the best care to expecting mothers while also identifying, and preventing, the root causes of maternal mortality,” Torres Small said.
MMRC committees are comprised of leading professionals from public health, obstetrics and gynecology, maternal-fetal medicine, nursing, midwifery, forensic pathology, mental and behavioral health, patient advocacy groups, and community-based organizations. These specialists work together to learn from past cases and provide the CDC with resources and actionable recommendations to prevent future deaths.