The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a federal agency under the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has earmarked $15m to enhance maternal health services in rural communities.  

This funding, allocated over the next four years, is part of the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (Rural MOMS) Programme, which aims to improve access to maternal care, including obstetric services, specifically in rural areas. 

The Rural MOMS Programme will provide start-up funding to awardees, each receiving nearly $4m over four years to pilot new approaches for supporting and expanding maternal care in rural communities.  

The initiative adopts a network model to ensure coordinated care across rural hospitals, medical centres, rural health clinics, and community health centres. 

Additionally, HRSA’s investment will support the ‘Delta Region Maternal Care Coordination Programme’, which aims to bolster maternal care, before, during and post-pregnancy, and reduce disparities in the Delta region of the South and Midwest. 

This region encompasses states such as Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.  

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This programme aims to tackle the high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality across the region. HRSA expects to award up to four cooperative agreements totalling around $7m over four years. 

Recent funding recipients include Mariposa Community Health Center in Arizona and the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, receiving $4m and $3.836m respectively.  

HHS highlighted that the ‘Enhancing Maternal Health Initiative’ by HRSA is dedicated to accelerating efforts to address maternal mortality and health disparities in partnership with various stakeholders, including women, grantees, and health officials nationwide. 

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said: “Addressing the unacceptable rate of maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States is one of the Biden-Harris Administration’s top priorities. 

“These investments in expanding access to maternal care in high-need rural communities are essential to helping mothers and their babies thrive.” 

The latest investment is part of HRSA’s broader goal to improve maternal health in rural and underserved communities, which includes recent Healthy Start awards of $105m. 

It also includes $65m awarded to health centres for addressing maternal health crisis and $8m to support nurse-midwifery programmes at ten universities through the MatCare programme.