Speaker spotlight: Eliminating disparities in maternal and child health

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.

Rebecca Dineen

Rebecca Dineen, assistant commissioner for the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health at the Baltimore City Health Department, will be the awards luncheon speaker for Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore on Saturday, May 4.

Dineen joined the Baltimore City Health Department in 2008 and leads the B’more for Healthy Babies campaign, which promotes proper infant sleeping practices to reduce the risk of sleep-related deaths in children under age one. The campaign offers parents and other caregivers best practices to promote safe sleep and breastfeeding. It also works to reduce teen pregnancy.

Launched in 2009, B’more for Healthy Babies has been lauded as a national model for reducing infant deaths and disparities between black and white infants in terms of sleep-related fatalities, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.  The city also launched a doula program to reduce infant mortality among black newborns.

A recent spike in crib deaths around Baltimore (six infants died in December and January) resulted in a response and investigation from Dineen’s department. The B’more for Health Babies campaign plans to roll out the hashtag #NotOneMoreBaltimore and enlist more people in the community to spread the message of safe sleep practices, according to a recent story by Meredith Cohn of The Baltimore Sun.

Dineen also leads the Youth Health and Wellness Initiative at the Baltimore City Health Department. She recently spoke out in support of a bill moving through the Maryland state legislature that would raise the minimum age of buying tobacco and tobacco-related products from 18 to 21.

Dineen has worked in 14 countries on three continents in maternal and child health, family planning, HIV/AIDS, malaria and primary care. She has a master’s degree in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Northwestern University.

Dineen will be the speaker at Saturday’s awards luncheon at noon.

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