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Government & Politics

Akron's Health Equity Summit Looks to Address Infant Mortality and Other Health Disparaties

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Ohio has some of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation, and that includes neighborhoods in the Akron area.

This week, the city of Akron is hosting a health equity summit to present ideas to combat that and other health disparities.

The event this Thursday brings together healthcare providers, social service agencies, government leaders and citizen advocates discussing ways to combat high infant mortality and other issues affecting underserved communities.

Teresa Albanese, Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan’s advisor on health issues, says the initial focus will be on improving prenatal care and educating physicians about the causes of premature births.

She says the long-term goal is to reduce health disparities across neighborhoods.

“Because we don’t want in Akron your ZIP code to predict your life expectancy, to predict your risk of premature birth, or predict your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke..."

Albanese says that boosting community health outreach may require new funding sources, but it’s cheaper than doing nothing.

“Whatever we do is not going to cost as much as it costs right now to take care of infants in the NICU, especially if they’re born really early and can spend months in the NICU and we get into millions of dollars,” says Albanese.

She says the summit will consider evidence-based programs to prevent premature births, the leading cause of infant mortality.

If you’re interested in attending the summit or submitting ideas online, register here. The event Thursday at the Akron-Summit County Public Library is free.