New Center Takes Multifaceted Approach to Addressing Maternal, Child Health

Milken Institute SPH was awarded a five-year, $1.75M grant to evaluate and pioneer strategies that improve health outcomes for women and children.

maternal health image
The metropolitan D.C. area has adverse health outcomes related to reproductive, maternal and child health. The District’s maternal mortality rate is twice the national average. It also struggles with a high infant mortality rate.
July 10, 2020

The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health has announced that it will launch the GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Education, Science, Practice and Policy, the first center of its kind in the nation’s capital that will be funded by a five-year, $1.75 million grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The center will provide educational, training and research opportunities for faculty and students, as well as agencies, organizations, and communities in Washington, D.C. The center is led by Amita N. Vyas, director of the Maternal and Child Health Program at Milken Institute SPH.

The GW Maternal and Child Health Center aims to strengthen the curriculum offered to students of the Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health program at Milken Institute SPH and increase research opportunities related to maternal and child health by establishing partnerships with community organizations and health agencies.

The center will leverage its location in Washington, D.C, to provide students with training opportunities in policy at the local and federal levels. It will also partner with other MCHB-funded Centers of Excellence across the country on projects related to policy and practice.

“The health of women, infants, children and adolescents is a significant indicator of the wellbeing and economic prosperity of nations, and yet across the United States, families and communities are facing adverse maternal and child health outcomes,” Dr. Vyas said.

Despite the significant gains over the past decades, much work remains, especially for those who are socially or economically marginalized, she added.

“Our Center of Excellence will provide us with unique opportunities to address these needs by supporting a highly trained, interdisciplinary workforce of diverse practitioners, policy experts and scientists,” Dr. Vyas said.

The metropolitan D.C. area has adverse health outcomes related to reproductive, maternal and child health. The District’s maternal mortality rate is twice the national average. It also struggles with a high infant mortality rate. The region also faces challenges related to reproductive health, including high rates of unintended teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. The GW Maternal and Child Health Center aims to evaluate and pioneer public health strategies that can address these challenges to improve outcomes in the D.C. region and be used as an example nationwide.

Over the past two decades, the Maternal and Child Health Program at Milken Institute SPH has graduated more than 450 emerging public health leaders and has evolved into a premier destination for research and education related to the health and well-being of women and children worldwide.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has truly brought to light the unique vulnerabilities women face, especially women of color,” Dr. Vyas said. “In becoming a Center of Excellence, we will transform our program and distinguish our school as a leader in preparing the next generation of leaders in this field to address gender, racial and economic disparities.”

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