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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — North Carolina has some of the worst women and infant mortality rates nationwide. According to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, our state is ranked 11th when it comes to these mortality rates.

“Our goal is to reduce maternal, infant mortality by 50% over five years,” said Dr. Kia Williams, the Associate Medical Director for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC.

A large goal, but one that Doctor Kia Williams with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is hopeful about. North Carolina ranks as one of the worse states in terms of infant and maternal mortality rates. But what’s even more concerning, are the racial disparities within that problem.

“We know that health disparities among marginalized communities, communities of color, rural communities all are contributing to the high disparity rates in maternal health outcomes in our state,” said Dr. Williams.

Now the insurance company wants to get in the race to improve these disparities.

“We have targeted 2 million dollars to organizations who are actively working in North Carolina to address these issues, to help improve maternal and infant health across the state particularly in communities of color and rural communities.”

So what about Eastern North Carolina?

“We are concerned about the Eastern and Western part of the state. We know that some of those areas we call maternity health deserts so there’s not a lot of access to not just routine maternal care but particularly when there are high-risk health concerns but getting access to the specialty care,” said Dr. Williams.

So let’s take a look at some statistics. In Pitt County, the white infant mortality rate was 3.5 per 1000 births, for Hispanic babies it was 8.5 and for black babies, a total of 16.7 per 1000 births. North Carolina sits at an average of 7 per 1000 live births.

So what’s the solution?

“If we target these disparities and we target these impacted communities, it will result in overall improved health of all members of our community across the entire state,” said Dr. Williams.

Click here for both a closer look at statistics and a link to apply for the $2,000,000 in funding for this initiative.