New York State Department of Health Recognizes National Women's Health Week

Department Encourages Women to Prioritize Their General Health and Wellness

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 16, 2023) - The New York State Department of Health recognizes National Women's Health Week, observed May 14-20, by encouraging New York's women to stay informed and prioritize their health. This year's theme is "Women's Health, Whole Health: Prevention, Care, and Wellbeing."

"Women's Health Week is not only a time to celebrate women but also a time to encourage all women to put their own physical and mental well-being at the forefront," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Getting regular checkups, exercising, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and focusing on one's mental health can all lead to a healthy and full life."

The Department has created programs and initiatives that aim to improve the overall health of women across the state.

The Department is working to prevent and control cardiovascular disease and diabetes and related risk factors, which are commonly cited as causes of disability and death for women, both nationally and in New York State. The Department employs several strategies to reduce the risk of these diseases and their complications.

Since 2018, the Department has been implementing targeted health system interventions in partnership with the Community Health Care Association of New York State, to improve quality of care and outcomes for patients who receive care in community health centers. The initiative uses health information technology to identify people with hypertension, diabetes, and prediabetes and develops processes to improve their care and outcomes. A major focus is to refer people to evidence-based community programs where they can learn how to better manage their conditions. Examples of community programs include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring, National Diabetes Prevention, and Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support.

The New York State Cancer Services Program (CSP) offers free breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening, diagnostic testing, and referral to treatment to eligible uninsured and underinsured people, including women. The program is administered through 21 CSP grantees covering every county and borough in New York State. Grantees focus their efforts on reaching individuals who lack access to services and who bear a disproportionate burden of cancer to improve cancer outcomes and reduce health disparities.

The Department is also committed to addressing systemic inequities, creating safer birth experiences for all New Yorkers, and providing resources to parents, children, and infants.

In 2019, the Department established The New York State Maternal Mortality Review Board (MMRB) to review each pregnancy-associated death and issue a biennial report to the Commissioner of Health. In New York State, pregnancy-associated death reviews are performed by two boards, a New York State Board and New York City Board. The Department combines its results to generate statewide figures. By October 2019, over 30 different clinical experts were identified, vetted, and invited to join the review board. Member specialties include Obstetrics and Gynecology, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Pathology, Psychiatry, and Social Work.

The Department also established the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Advisory Council (MMMAC) comprised of multidisciplinary experts and lay persons knowledgeable in the field of maternal mortality, women's health, and public health. It also includes members who serve and are representative of the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity of the women and mothers of the state. The MMMAC reviews the findings of the MMRB to identify social determinants and environmental issues known to impact maternal health outcomes. The MMMAC may develop its own recommendations on policies, best practices, and strategies to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity.

The Department, along with the New York State Office of Mental Health, is finalizing a study on postpartum depression screening tools and health disparities associated with using evidence-based screening tools. The study also looks at environmental and societal factors that may increase the risk for postpartum depression. This study will help guide state agencies to better serve pregnant and birthing people at risk for or diagnosed with postpartum depression.

The Perinatal Infant and Community Health Collaborative (PICHC) is a community health worker/paraprofessional-based home visiting program. PICHC programs implement strategies to improve the health and well-being of individuals of reproductive age, and their families, with a focus on individuals in the prenatal, postpartum, and interconception periods. PICHC programs implement individual-level strategies to address perinatal health behaviors, and community-level strategies to address the social determinants which impact health outcomes. The core individual-level strategy is the use of Community Health Workers (CHWs) to outreach and provide support to eligible individuals at risk for, or with a previous history of adverse birth outcomes.

Nurse-Family Partnership and Healthy Families New York programs provide education, screening, and referrals to those who are pregnant or parents of young children. Services are provided in the home, via telephone, or wherever the person is comfortable. Nurse-Family Partnership programs serve pregnant people who will be first-time parents and can continue until the child is two years old. Healthy Families New York programs are provided by specially trained family support workers to pregnant people or parents of young children. Nurse-Family Partnership and Healthy Families New York programs have been proven to improve outcomes for parents and their children.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides breastfeeding support, nutrition counseling, health education, health care referrals, referrals to other services, and nutritious foods to approximately 400,000 women, infants, and children each month through 88 local providers (hospitals, local health departments, and community-based organizations) at 400 service sites. The fundamental purpose of the program is to ensure the health and well-being of income-eligible families with young children. WIC provides individually tailored food prescriptions issued to each participant for specific types and brands of foods that meet strict nutrition requirements. These food benefits, valued at nearly $400 million annually, can be redeemed at approximately 2,700 authorized retail food vendors across the state.

Creating Breastfeeding Friendly Communities is a coordinated, multi-sector initiative designed to build and expand community-based breastfeeding partnerships and advance broad-based policy, system, and environmental changes on breastfeeding protection, promotion, support, and care management within community settings. The initiative also seeks to reduce the racial/ethnic and community disparities in the prevalence of breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding in New York State. The Department funds six local health organizations working in 55 priority communities statewide to implement breastfeeding support improvements across community settings, including worksites, health care practices, childcare settings, breastfeeding support groups, and breastfeeding coalitions. Beginning July 1, 2023, the Department will expand the initiative to fund nine organizations to implement breastfeeding supports in 173 priority communities statewide through the Breastfeeding, Chestfeeding, and Lactation Friendly New York initiative.

The Department's prevention initiatives provide a wide range of informative programming aimed at combatting sexual trauma.

The Department's AIDS Institute's Division of HIV/STD/HCV Prevention Women's Services Initiative and Communities of Color Initiative support programs that provide a comprehensive range of HIV/STI/HCV prevention interventions and related services for women and young women of color through the implementation of proven high impact prevention strategies and innovative interventions.

The Sexual Violence Prevention Unit (SVPU) aims to reduce sexual violence in New York State by promoting a public health approach. The unit is focused on facilitating partnerships with government and communities, investing funding into communities, improving awareness of the public health approach to sexual violence prevention, working to improve regulation, policy, and monitoring programs that impact sexual and domestic violence survivors, and strengthening data and evaluation.

The Department's reproductive health care programs aim to provide access to critical reproductive health care services to vulnerable New Yorkers as well as those coming from out of state to seek care.

The New York State Family Planning Program (NYSFPP) funds 37 organizations operating over 160 clinic sites across the state to provide accessible, confidential reproductive health care services to people of reproductive age, especially low-income individuals, and those without health insurance. This program provides high-quality client-centered services, including contraceptive services (birth control), reproductive life planning and counseling, preconception health services, pregnancy testing, non-directive options counseling, testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and routine screening for breast and cervical cancer.

The Expanding Safe and Supportive Medical/Procedural Abortion Access Program (ESSMAAP) is a new initiative that awarded funding to 51 organizations operating over 120 clinic sites to provide abortion care and related services. ESSMAAP grantees will expand access to medical and/or procedural abortion services in New York State, with a focus on supporting individuals in communities with limited access or where access may be negatively impacted if other States ban or severely restrict access to abortion services.

The New York State FY 2024 Budget allocates new funding for reproductive health care. Governor Hochul allocated $100.7 million in State funding to boost New York abortion providers by increasing Medicaid reimbursements and requiring private insurers to cover medication abortion when prescribed off-label for abortion. Additionally, in light of national efforts to roll back reproductive health care access, this historic measure will strongly protect the personal data of those seeking abortion care in New York State, regardless of state residency status.

The Budget also includes actions to invest in other areas that directly impact women such as childcare, support to working families, and housing.

The Department reminds women to prioritize their physical and mental well-being.

The Women's Health information page can be found here.

Women's Health Issues can be found here.

Preventative Services for Women Without Copayment or Coinsurance Changes can be found here.

The Maternal Mortality information page can be found here.

The New York State Department of Health Cancer Community Programs List can be found here.