Recently, I came across an online article entitled, “New Ads Push Prenatal Care”. I clicked on it to learn more, and found myself somewhat surprised to be reading the article in the Phnom Phen Post, the English language newspaper in Cambodia.
I went to Cambodia on a couple of occasions back in 2004 and 2005. Decades after the formal departure of a cruel and inhumane government, Cambodians were still suffering from the ills of poverty and lack of medical treatment. Crossing the border from Thailand, I remember being met not only by extreme poverty but also by the lingering horrors of the cruelty of the former regime like burn victims and people with missing limbs. It was truly heart-wrenching.
The article talks about Cambodia’s efforts to reduce its staggering infant mortality rates through prenatal care. I haven’t been back to Cambodia since then, but the article makes me hopeful that Cambodia is starting to look toward its future by investing in its very youngest residents.
The article also reminded me of a chart that our resident data queen here at Voices for Children, Melissa Breazile, put together last year. The chart compared infant mortality rates in Nebraska and the United States to other advanced economies.
As you can see, with both Nebraska and United States at the bottom of the chart, we have room for improvement. The infant mortality rate is not nearly as alarming as in a place like Cambodia, but we rank relatively low compared to our peers. We can and should do better. If Cambodia — with all they have overcome as a nation — can make healthy babies a priority, surely we can too.
A little over a month from now, our state legislature will return to session and have the opportunity to do just that . We can make healthy babies a priority by restoring access to prenatal care coverage for all low-income Nebraska mothers through Medicaid. We know that it’s the right thing to do, and we are hopeful that our fellow Nebraskans and state senators do too.