Media Relations


January 28, 2008


TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Health's (DOH) Office of Minority Health will host the A Healthy Baby Begins with You Black Infant Mortality Summit from 8:00am-3:00pm on Saturday, February 2nd at the Florida A&M University Pharmacy Building in Tallahassee. The Summit will raise awareness of black infant mortality in Florida with an emphasis on the Capital Region.

“The death of a baby is disturbing regardless of race. Nevertheless, blacks are disproportionately affected,” DOH Minority Health Director Emile Commedore, M.D., J.D. said. “This Summit provides a forum to discuss black infant mortality, its surrounding issues and its impact in Leon, Gadsden, Madison, Jefferson and Wakulla Counties.”

Last year, the black infant mortality rate was 15 per 1,000 live births in Leon County, 14.7 per 1,000 in Gadsden County, and 12.9 per 1,000 in Florida statewide. These statistics are significantly higher than the overall white infant mortality rate of 7 per 1,000 in Florida. Contributors to this disparity will be discussed at the Summit.

Public Health Consultant Goldie Watkins-Bryant, M.P.H., from the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, Inc. in Harlem, New York will present the model that contributed to New York's rates which decreased 45 percent in 10 years (11 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 6 per 1,000 live births in 2002). Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, Inc. is one of two promising practices that will be presented at the Summit.

The Black Infant Mortality Summit is offered in conjunction with the National Office of Minority Health and is a part of its A Healthy Baby Begins with You Campaign, a national black infant mortality awareness campaign. The National Office of Minority Health is a division of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

"This campaign is part of a broader national effort that the National Office of Minority Health has introduced to combat health disparities in all communities," said Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H., HHS deputy assistant secretary for minority health. "We are pleased with the involvement of our local partners as we work to improve the health of all Americans."

Dr. Graham and campaign celebrity spokeswoman Tonya Lewis Lee, wife of Spike Lee, will both attend the Summit. Lee will read her children's book, Please, Baby, Please, from 1:00pm-2:00pm at the Summit. HIV testing, pregnancy tests, dental assessments, and screenings for sickle cell and blood pressure will be offered to the community, as well as healthy parenthood chats for new and young parents and women of childbearing age. Individuals interested in attending this free event should pre-register at

Sponsors of the Summit include: Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, DOH Bureau of HIV/AIDS, DOH Women's Health Program, Big Bend Area Health Education Center, Leon County Health Department, Capital Area Healthy Start, and the Tallahassee Democrat.

DOH promotes, protects and improves the health of all people in Florida. The DOH Office of Minority Health provides leadership in improving minority health and reducing health disparities through education, collaboration, mobilization and coordination statewide. For more information, visit To learn more about the A Healthy Baby Begins with You Campaign, visit the National Office of Minority Health website at



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