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INFANT MORTALITY AND HOMELESS WOMEN

Does the community lack adequate health facilities to ensure the safety and well-being of infants? What does it require to provide shelter for the continuously growing population of homeless women in our society? These are a few questions that beg for answers in contemporary times. This article looks into the causes of infant mortality and women homelessness as well as ways to bring them under control for the benefit of the society.

The well-being of every society is highly important because it contributes to economic development indirectly. To identify if an economy is in good condition, indicators such as infant mortality rate and availability of shelter serve as instruments which help to check the overall condition of the community as regards health status.

CHART: INFANTS DEATH IN ST. LOUIS

Many factors have been identified to be the cause of infants mortality such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), pre-birth complications, birth defects, low birth weight, and preterm delivery. The myth about homelessness is that it is a function of mental illness and physical disabilities, but in a broader view, factors such as natural disaster, losing your beloved, unemployment, post-traumatic stress disorder, divorce, and domestic violence also contributes to women homelessness.

Some reports have it that, as of 2017, homeless people who received emergency housing in St Louis were about 6,000 residents, in which 54% were women, and 27% were children. The implication of this is the inability to tackle existing health challenges such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, among others. As a result of homelessness, women tend to encounter other challenges such as inadequate or lack of access to menstrual products meant for their cycle, lack of access to maternal health care, and deteriorating personal safety.

CHART: MISSOURI HOMELESSNESS STATISTICS

Source: Missouri Housing Development Commission

In recent times, neighboring states have witnessed a gradual reduction in the number of infants who die in a few years after birth. However, the same cannot be said of St Louis’ as reported by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. According to the department, the infant mortality rate in St. Louis’ remains unchanged despite measures taken to tackle the societal problem. To achieve a reduction in infant mortality, a high degree of attention needs to be given to providing shelter to a large number of homeless women in society.

By solving the problem of women homelessness, the following challenges will be correct, which will, in turn, leads to low infant mortality rates.

CHART: PROPORTION OF GENDER AND RACE IN FAMILIES, ADULTS HOUSEHOLD AND NO CHILDREN IN MISSOURI

Source: Missouri Housing Development Commission

Women Ability to Cater for Infants:

Childcare is one of the responsibilities of women. Without a shelter, it will be very difficult to perform their duties correctly. Researches also showed that women head the majority of homeless families; hence, the pressure to ensure they provide stable housing for themselves and their children. Women inability to provide shelter may lead to infant mortality, malnutrition, fear of losing their children to the government.

Therefore, it is essential to provide support to women and children found in a homeless situation because in most cases, it is practically impossible for homeless women to uphold their responsibilities to their children without shelter.

Easy Accessibility of Adequate Maternal Health Care

Women homelessness is a major cause of unwanted pregnancy. Women without shelter are prone to assault and molestation from different kind of people on the street. According to research, pre-birth complications is higher among homeless women and their children than the ones with shelter. According to the above assertion, preterm delivery tends to be three times higher among homeless women than those who live in a well-constructed building, which usually leads to health complication for their infants.

Pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy periods are usually though for women, homelessness does not help the fact that there are expenses to incur during these periods. Even though the expectant mother has access to free care, the majority of homeless women expecting a child would rather put off accessing free services with the fear of the denial to take care of their baby.

CHART: MISSOURI HOMELESSNESS POPULATION COUNT 2011 – 2016

Source: Missouri Housing Development Commission

.Easy Accessibility of Menstrual Products

One of the toughest challenge faced by homeless women is the ability to keep up with their menstrual cycle. Materials such as pads and tampons are expensive, costing about $5 to $10, which is far higher than what some homeless women can afford. Providing shelter is a step to put this problem under check. Shelters meant for homeless should contain menstrual products to aid menstrual cycle convenience.

Access to shelter empowers women to be hygienic, fights against infection and diseases that could be contracted using toilet paper or ripped pieces of cloth. This also contributes indirectly to the reduction of infants mortality.

TABLE: MISSOURI HOUSING INVENTORY CHANGE OVER TIME

Source: Missouri Housing Development Commission

Increase Personal Safety for Women

Basically, there so many danger that surrounds living without a home. Homeless women risk their lives and those of their infants living on the streets; they lack personal safety, which is a concern to their existence. Research showed that the majority of the homeless population are male. Therefore, there is a high tendency that most homeless women sleep in shelter or area dominated by homeless male. The implication is the lack of personal safety as life on the streets does not guarantee safety by any means.

Providing shelter for homeless women will ensure they are safe from being sexually assaulted in the streets or their overcrowded shelter dominated by men. Also, it helps women to avoid using public restrooms late at night so as not to be molested by their male counterparts.

Healing Heart Solution to the Problem

Healing Heart has put in place an initiative that takes into consideration related problems to women homelessness and infant mortality by providing shelters for the growing homeless population in St. Louis. As part of our initiative, we provide childcare assistance for homeless mother’s without making fun of them. Our mission at Healing heart is to empower every homeless woman and their children through our activities and programs designed to provide one of the essential needs of life.

References

Amherst H Wilder Foundation. (2019, July 17). St. Louis County homelessness. Retrieved from Duluth News Tribute: https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4587623-st-louis-county-homelessness-23-percent

Infant Death in St. Louis. (2019, July 17). Retrieved from Flourish: https://www.flourishstlouis.org/problem/

Missouri Housing Development Commission. (2017). Statewide Homelessness Study. Missouri: Public Policy Research Center.

United State Interagency Council on Homelessness. (2019, July 17). Missouri Homelessness Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.usich.gov/homelessness-statistics/mo/

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