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DATE: September 14, 2004

Letters to the Editor
Winston-Salem Journal

Dear Editor:

As a local Hispanic health advocate, I commend the Journal for drawing attention to the rise in infant mortality among North Carolina's Hispanic community (September 13). This community's relatively low infant death rate in previous years has, perhaps, instilled a false sense of security surrounding this segment of the population, in a state that has been battling an infant mortality epidemic for over 15 years.

As noted in the article, infant death rates among Hispanics have historically been very low, especially when compared to non-Hispanic minority groups and even whites. Unfortunately, this rate is seemingly beginning to rise and must be addressed before elevating out of control.

Fortunately, some groups have begun taking proactive approaches to educating the Latino community about ways to reduce infant death. Since 2000, the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation has coordinated the statewide "Ana María Campaign" - providing health information and referrals for Latino families. They also promote the state's only bilingual (Spanish/English) family health resource line (1-800-367-2229) which not only provides information pertaining to infant mortality, but also step-by-step instruction on how to apply for health insurance, ensuring necessary prenatal and post-partum care.

Taking the time to address this issue now is paramount to ensuring the State's infant mortality rate among Latinos does not continue to grow. We must build on the strengths of the Latino community, utilize existing resources and continue to put new ones into place. The responsibility falls on all individuals and organizations to reach out to, and educate, North Carolina's minority populations on ways to address our state's continued struggle with infant mortality.

Eva M. Gomez, R.N. MSN
Hispanic Patient Educator, Brenner Children's Hospital Board Member, North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation

Brenner Children's Hospital
10 th Floor Administrative Suites Medical Center Boulevard Winston-Salem, NC 27157
(336) 713-2247

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Last updated: August 2005






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