On June 26, the WHAMglobal team - and several of the national leaders in women's health, healthcare delivery, finance, and policy who also participated in the trip - shared their insights on the Australia excursion during a Health Careers Futures Board meeting. WHAMglobal also previewed how it plans to advance research, policy, and advocacy around maternal health during the second half of 2018.
In the spring, members of the WHAMglobal team embarked on a study tour to learn how Australia has created a health system that produces a maternal mortality rate that is nearly five times lower than the rate in the U.S. The study tour, recapped on this blog, yielded insights on new care models and crucial workforce roles that support WHAMglobal's mission of reducing maternal mortality and supporting mothers and families through the entirety of their care.
Established in late 2016, WHAMglobal is JHF's newest supporting organization and was founded by Karen Feinstein. Debra Caplan, MPA, vice-chair of the JHF Board of Trustees, chairs the WHAMglobal Board of Directors.
During the June 26 meeting, Karen Feinstein, JHF Women's Health Specialist Kate Dickerson, MSc., and JHF Program Manager Mara Leff, MPH explained Australia's comprehensive, proactive approach to maternal health. They noted that midwives, community health workers, and doulas are valued members of the care team. Australia also conducts thorough assessments of mothers' risk levels throughout and following pregnancy, matching physical, mental, and social services to their particular needs.
Three WHAMglobal partners who took part in the Australia study tour also offered their impressions. Carmen Anderson, MA, director of equity and social justice at The Heinz Endowments, emphasized that Australia's system offers holistic and culturally-competent services. Carole Bailey, CPA, treasurer of the JHF Board of Trustees and owner of Bailey Management Consulting, was struck by how quickly and thoroughly maternal health problems are investigated. Rhonda Moore Johnson, MD, MPH, senior medical director of medical management and quality at Highmark, Inc., said that Australia has a deep commitment to all mothers and babies and focuses on high-touch - rather than high-tech - care.
Dr. Feinstein explained that WHAMglobal is championing higher-quality maternal and child care in a variety of ways. The organization is supporting bundled payment models for maternity care, which hold the potential to redefine pre-and-post-natal care by wrapping services around the mother and incorporating midwives, doulas, and mental health professionals as a part of a true team-based approach. WHAMglobal is also seeking partnerships to establish the Maternal Coalition and Action Network (MOMsCAN) to lower maternal mortality rates in Pennsylvania and achieve excellent mother-baby attachment. MOMsCAN would use research, training, quality improvement, technical assistance, and new payment models to achieve this vision.
Dr. Feinstein also encouraged stakeholders to attend WHAMglobal's Maternal Health Research Symposium, which will take place on October 8 at the QI2T Center. The day-long symposium is designed to build on cutting-edge research about the causes and conditions related to maternal and infant mortality, and to consider various action strategies. The symposium precedes the Magee-Womens Research Institute Summit on October 9-10, and will bring together leading researchers, health practitioners, and policy-makers.
"WHAMglobal wants to build a global movement, like Rotary International's effort to eliminate polio," Dr. Feinstein said. "We want to take a stand and say, not one mother should die from a preventable cause during or following pregnancy. We can, and must, do better."