Birmingham City Council launches Pregnancy and Maternity survey as part of African and Caribbean Health Inequality Review

Published: Tuesday, 16th February 2021

Birmingham City Council is launching a survey to understand inequalities in experiences of pregnancy and early parenthood among African and Caribbean women.

This is part of the programme of work to tackle health inequalities affecting these communities through the BLACHIR review.

The Birmingham Lewisham African and Caribbean Review (BLACHIR) is a partnership project between Birmingham and Lewisham Councils structured over nine topic areas that will run over 18 months.  Two review boards, with the community and academic membership, provide steer and oversight to the process and help shape recommendations for action.

The first topic area was led by Lewisham and focused on the impact of racism and discrimination on health inequalities and the feedback from the initial meetings is being shaped into recommendations currently.

The second topic of the review focuses on pregnancy, maternity, and early years. This has involved reviewing the evidence base of inequalities and local data from service providers to draw out common themes. This has already identified significant inequalities in maternal mortality including that nationally African and Caribbean women have 5 times the risk of dying in pregnancy and have an 80% higher risk of severe maternal morbidity compared to white women.

As part of the review, Birmingham City Council has launched a survey to explore the experience of women in Birmingham and Lewisham, to collect insights into the issues they encountered and to help shape recommendations at local, regional and national level that can improve experiences for women and outcomes.

The survey includes a mix of standardised questions from national surveys as well as a range of free-text fields to collect more in-depth qualitative views from the community. The survey is confidential and takes about 20 minutes to complete.

The survey is available on the BeHeard platform operated by Birmingham City Council and it will be open until the 14th March.

Information collected through the survey will be fed back into the review and presented to the academic and review boards of the BLACHR review to help shape the recommendations for action to address the inequalities affecting these communities.

Cllr Paulette Hamilton, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Adult Social Care, said “I know that being pregnant and giving birth can be both terrifying and wonderful experience. The evidence clearly shows that for too many women in African and Caribbean communities the experience isn’t positive and outcomes for women and babies are worse. The Review is an opportunity to really get into the drivers, barriers and opportunities for change to break decades of inequalities and make a change for the future. But we need women to share their experiences directly with us and help shape the recommendations to change so they are rooted in our community and what they want and need."

Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health, said “Tackling the inequalities affecting communities is important at every stage of the life course, but getting it right from conception through pregnancy and the early years is absolutely fundamental to giving people the best chance to achieve their potential in life. Changing decades of inequalities won’t happen over night and has to be rooted in the lived experience of citizens and this survey is a key part of capturing women’s voices to drive real change.”

For more information on the BLACHIR review scope and areas of focus please visit the council website.

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