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Report reveals HHS needs to better track progress of efforts to address maternal deaths

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Having a baby is supposed to be a joyous time for parents, but for hundreds of families every year in the U.S., it turns to tragedy because of complications.

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Charles Johnson’s wife Kira died from internal bleeding after having a C-section in 2016.

“The thought that my wife would not walk out to raise her boys, it never crossed my mind,” said Johnson.

U.S. maternal mortality rates are worse than any other high-income country, according to a new report.

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The findings from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveal the problem got even worse during the pandemic, with Black women disproportionately affected.

It says Black women were about 2.5 times more likely to die from maternal health problems compared to white women during the pandemic.

“The U.S. faces a maternal mortality crisis,” said Karen Doran, an Assistant Director in the Health Care Team for GAO.

The report said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working to address the problem.

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There are programs aimed at improving healthcare best practices and the quality of care for mothers and babies.

It’s part of a plan the Biden administration released in 2022 called the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis.

But the report said the Department hasn’t figured out how to track progress of these efforts to properly determine if they are working enough.

“They need to identify ways to ensure their actions can be measured and quantified so they can determine if they’re making progress on their goals and change course if they need to,” said Doran.

In response, HHS said it agrees with the recommendations to develop strategies to better measure progress.

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