Babies in Cincinnati don’t get the same chance to celebrate a first birthday as do babies in other areas across the country, and Mayor Mark Mallory has entered Cincinnati into a contest that could change that.
A proposal Mallory submitted was selected Feb. 20 as one of 20 finalists from more than 305 cities in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition designed to propel mayors from around the country to dream up innovative solutions to urban problems and improve city life. Each city’s proposal tackles a different flaw — ours, perhaps, is among the most pressing of the bunch.
Infant mortality rates are typically measured by the number of deaths of babies under one year of age per 1,000 live births. Rates in Cincinnati are at 13.6; the national average is 6 — less than half that.
Mallory’s proposal would create an Infant Vitality Surveillance Network, which, according to a press release sent out by Mallory’s office, has already been launched via a pilot version with significant success. Here’s how it works: When a woman finds out she’s pregnant, she’s enrolled in First Steps, a care program that maintains a secure database of new mothers and monitors pregnancies.
Cincinnati could win a $5 million prize or one of four $1 million prizes to help implement and sustain the Infant Mortality Network.
“In Cincinnati, we are dealing with an infant mortality rate that is twice the national average. And half of those deaths occur in just five zip codes. So we know exactly where the problem is, we know exactly what community is having the issue. ... We’re really trying to create a program in Cincinnati that can be replicated all across the country” Mallory says in a video on the competition’s website.