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The Black Women’s Health Imperative & The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses Announce Partnership To Address Maternal Mortality Among Black Women

ATLANTA – (July 29, 2020) – Today, the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) announced its partnership with the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) to lay the groundwork necessary to develop a patient-centered, values-based implicit bias curriculum that incorporates the lived experiences of Black women during their pregnancy, birth and postpartum care. The goal of this work will be to change the perception and behaviors of providers related to racism, implicit bias and its effect on maternal morbidity and mortality. 

The recommendations from this work will be a key component of a major multiyear quality improvement project led by AWHONN to reduce maternal morbidity through standardized and structured dissemination and evaluation of its POST-BIRTH Warning Signs Program. This project is a collaborative effort between Premier, Inc., the National Birth Equity Collaborative and the Black Women’s Health Imperative and is supported by funding from Merck for Mothers. 

 “Black maternal and infant health is undoubtedly in crisis, and BWHI is collaborating with organizations like AWHONN to conduct research and to develop solutions to this widespread disparity that exists regardless of age, socioeconomic status, education or other factors,” said Linda Goler Blount, President & CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. “Provider education is a key component of systemically addressing the issue, and we are hopeful about this and other initiatives focused on incorporating cultural sensitivity into care.”

The Black Women’s Health Imperative is a national non-profit organization dedicated to advancing health equity and social justice for Black women, across the lifespan, through policy, advocacy, education, research, and leadership development. The organization identifies the most pressing health issues that affect the nation’s 22 million Black women and girls and invests in the best of the best strategies and organizations that accomplish its goals. The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) emphasizes the importance of integrating cultural competence, diversity, and inclusion into all aspects of its work as an essential part of its mission, which creates shared common priorities for a viable partnership.

Maternal mortality is a significant and foreboding public health crisis in the United States. Nationwide, 700 women die each year due to pregnancy-related complications, many being preventable.  Regrettably, the mortality rate for Black women is three to four times higher than that of White women. Through our partnership with the Black Women’s Health Imperative, our goal is to more clearly understand how racism, bias, and disrespectful care contribute to this tragedy, and to create a call to action to transform clinical practice and improve healthcare outcomes,” said Rebecca Cypher, MSN, PNNP, AWHONN 2020 President.

This will be accomplished by reviewing the science, interventions, and current policies related to implicit bias and racism in maternal health care, gathering and integrating stories from Black women and their significant others/families whose lives have been impacted by maternal mortality and morbidity, and improving provider awareness of the adverse effects of implicit/institutional bias. Upon completion, the joint project will set a strategy for addressing structural racism and systems of care delivery as barriers to promoting and improving maternal health at the national and state levels.

BWHI is recruiting parties in Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC who are interested in participating in this project by sharing about their prenatal, birth, and postpartum care experiences.  Interested parties should contact  

For more information about The Black Women’s Health Imperative, please visit

The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization. Our mission is to empower and support nurses caring for women, newborns, and their families through research, education, and advocacy. For more information about AWHONN, please visit  

This project is supported by funding from Merck, through Merck for Mothers, the company’s $500 million initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die giving life. Merck for Mothers is known as MSD for Mothers outside the United States and Canada.