May 11 Through May 17 Is National Women’s Health Week In The US
May 13, 2014

May 11 Through May 17 Is National Women’s Health Week In The US

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

While Mother’s Day is typically a day in which we honor the most important women in our lives through phone calls, greeting cards, flowers and other gestures, it also serves as the annual kickoff of National Women’s Health Week, an American wellness initiative that this year runs from May 11-17.

National Women's Health Week is a seven-day observance, spearheaded by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health (OWH), with the goal of empowering women to prioritize their health and wellbeing. Throughout the week, various organizations, communities, individuals and families are encouraged to help women learn how to achieve longer, healthier and happier lives.

“We know that women are often the ones who make sure everyone – everyone else, that is – in our families are cared for. But too often, we put our own health last,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement Friday. “But the reality is unless you take care of yourself, you cannot really take care of your family. That means eating right, exercising, quitting smoking, and getting the care necessary to stay healthy.”

“Over the past half-century, women have opened up vast horizons for themselves and their daughters. Yet many still work harder for less, and because of gender inequality in areas like health care, they have had to stretch paychecks further to make ends meet,” President Barack Obama added in an official proclamation. “During National Women's Health Week, we recommit to expanding women's access to care, fighting discrimination, and advancing the opportunity agenda.”

Both President Obama and Secretary Sebelius touted the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as one of the advances in women’s health that have occurred in recent years. Thanks to the ACA, Obama said, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to women due to pre-existing conditions, nor can women be discriminated against due to pregnancy. Sebelius added that the law also allows female patients to receive mammograms, birth control, smoking cessation services and other preventive services with no out-of-pocket expense.

“As we continue to implement this law, my Administration remains dedicated to protecting women's rights to make their own health care decisions,” President Obama said in his proclamation. “This week, let us uphold the principle of equality in health care. Let us affirm that women alone -- not insurance executives, not politicians, and not their bosses -- have the right to make decisions about their own health.”

Sebelius added that the government was also addressing women’s health issues in other ways, including through the funding and efforts of the National Institutes of Health, which has worked on preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission and developing vaccines against the cervical cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV).

In addition, she pointed out that the National Cancer Institute recently launched a female-centric anti-smoking campaign known as SmokefreeMOM. According to Sebelius, SmokefreeMOM uses text messages to provide expecting mothers with tips, advice and encouragement to help them kick the cigarette habit.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Women’s Health Week website also has information about planning events to mark the occasion, as well as e-Cards and podcasts focused on various women’s and family health issues. Among the topics explored in that material are fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, cardiovascular health, obesity and workplace safety.

Non-government organizations are also getting involved in the week-long women’s health event, as Susan G. Komen and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) announced on Monday that they were joining forces to urge women to learn more about breast cancer and get physically active.

The partnership officially kicked off on Saturday, when the WWE’s John Cena served as Grand Marshal of the Komen Global Race for the Cure in Washington, DC. Together, the women’s health foundation and the professional wrestling company have launched a website, and they are inviting women to participate through social media using the hashtag ‘#NWHN’.

According to Komen, more than 232,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone. While they note that mortality rates from the disease have decreased by more than one-third since 1990, they emphasize that one out of every eight American women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives.

“We’re so excited to have support from WWE this week while we share this vital information with women everywhere,” Komen President and CEO Dr. Judy Salerno said in a statement. “Sharing this knowledge will have a lasting impact in communities across the globe, and will bring us closer to our vision of a world without breast cancer.”