A Note from Neel Shah, MD, MPP
Join Me at the Lamaze Advocacy Summit
In 2017, I'm seeing a crisis in maternal health that is no less important than the opioid epidemic and other public health issues that often get more attention. Childbirth is the number one reason for hospitalization in the United States, with 0.6% of the $17 trillion GDP spent on this alone. For all this spending, one in every three moms gets a major surgery to give birth and one in every ten babies is sent to the NICU. It is clear that we could be doing a lot better.
Those of us who rely on evidence often draw a firm line between science, which requires objectivity, and advocacy, which requires taking sides. The truth is that impact requires both science and advocacy: science to give us confidence that what we're observing is the truth and that we are moving in ways that are directionally correct; and advocacy to move us there. Crafting well-framed, well-targeted, well-timed messages and building coalitions to carry and sustain these messages is critical.
Until recently, childbirth has lacked a coalition of adequate scope and scale. There is a stark difference between the organization of childbirth advocates and cancer advocates, for example. Cancer has a number of coalitions bringing together stakeholders to advocate for change. We took the first step on Mother’s Day this year when 20 leading maternal health organizations, including Lamaze International, partnered for the March for Moms. Now, it’s up to you to maintain the momentum by speaking directly to your representatives about the impact evidence-based childbirth education makes.
The United States has the highest maternal death rates, the lowest birth weights, the widest disparities and the worst access to care in the entire developed world. It’s time to do something about it. Join me October 23-24 to advocate alongside Lamaze – together we can draw attention to the maternal health crisis.
Neel Shah, MD, MPP
About Dr. Shah, Lamaze 2017 Advocacy Summit Keynote Speaker
Dr. Neel Shah is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and is the director of the Delivery Decisions Initiative at the Ariadne Labs for Health Systems Innovation. He is an expert in designing, testing and spreading system interventions that improve the safety, affordability and experience of patient care. As an obstetrician-gynecologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Shah cares for patients during critical life moments that range from surgery to primary care to childbirth. Learn more.