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Charlotte Physician Advocates For Black Maternal Health Crisis At SOTU Address


A Charlotte physician will join Congresswoman Alma Adams as her guest at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night. Pamela Oliver, the executive vice president of Novant Health, says she will be there to shed light on the black maternal health crisis.

“That risk of dying for black moms is regardless of education and socioeconomic status, and that’s what’s very humbling," Oliver said. "So if it was really all about money and education then we could find ways we think we could possibly solve it.” 

Dr. Pam Oliver
Credit Novant Health
Dr. Pam Oliver, executive vice president of Novant Health and president of Novant Health Physician Network.

The Centers for Disease Control says black women are nearly four times more likely than white women -- and more than twice as likely as women of other races -- to die from preventable, pregnancy-related complications. Oliver says there is no definitive cause, but there are many factors. 

“We do know that there are aspects of hormonal changes that can impact the next generation related to racism, and there is some data around implicit bias and therefore the choice in how one woman may be cared for versus another," she said. "That can play out in increased mortality.”

Rep. Adams, the founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, says Oliver’s expertise as an OB-GYN and her work on infant mortality reduction will help raise awareness on a national stage.  You can listen to The State of the Union at 9 p.m. on WFAE.org and on 90.7 FM. 

Sarafina Wright is the "All Things Considered" producer for WFAE 90.7 Charlotte’s NPR Source. Before coming to WFAE, she worked as a political correspondent for EBONY.com, staff writer at the Washington Informer and editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge in Washington, DC. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Howard University. When she's not writing professionally, Sarafina can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com or hanging out with her book club, Charlotte West.