Feb 16, 2024

Dr. Modupe Tunde-Byass featured in CBC doc exploring Black maternal health

Dr. Modupe Tunde-Byass
By Nick Patch

Dr. Modupe Tunde-Byass was recently featured in an episode of the CBC documentary series For the Culture with Amanda Parris exploring Black maternal health.

The documentary explores a number of issues affecting Black birthing people, including higher rates of intervention, maternal morbidity, and postpartum mental health concerns.

In the doc, Dr. Tunde-Byass is one of four experts whom host Parris refers to as her “dream team of Toronto-based care providers … working to change the standard of care for Black birthing people.”

One issue probed in the series is the dramatically higher maternal mortality rate among Black women in the U.S. and U.K. Dr. Tunde-Byass points out that in Canada, where race-based data in this area is not tracked, a similar problem likely exists.

“It’s assumed that things are different here in Canada compared to the United States because we have a free healthcare system, but if you think about the U.K. where there’s free health care, there’s still this staggering number of Black women dying,” says Dr. Tunde-Byass, who is an associate professor in our Department and the president of the Black Physicians of Canada.

“I think you can infer that those things are happening here. We just don’t have the numbers to prove it.”

Other issues probed in the documentary include the legacy of historical atrocities committed against pregnant Black women, damaging myths about the pain tolerance of Black people, and the systemic racism that many Black patients face when interacting with the healthcare system.

“There are also intersections — with race, disability, Indigeneity,” Dr. Tunde-Byass points out in the documentary. “Even if patients get to the hospital, they don’t feel welcome. Maybe you’re in this space and there’s nothing that looks like you there.”

Watch the full documentary on CBC here.

Dr. Tunde-Byass was also recently featured in a CMAJ podcast discussing morbidity and mortality rates among Black women.