New York State Department of Health Recognizes National Women's Health and Fitness Day

Department Encourages Women to Put Their Health First

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 27, 2023) - The New York State Department of Health recognizes National Women's Health and Fitness Day, observed September 27, and encourages all women to focus on their physical and emotional well-being today and every day.

"Women's Health and Fitness Day is another opportunity to encourage all women to put their health first," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Consistent physical activity, a healthy and balanced diet, getting regular checkups, focusing on one's mental health, and continuously learning about new developments in health can all lead to a full and healthy life."

"Women's Health and Fitness Day highlights the importance of women taking proactive steps in maintaining their health and wellness," State Health Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Johanne Morne said. "A healthy diet, daily moderate exercise such as walking and regular doctor visits are essential for good health."

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 their 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 implemented 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 pregnancy-associated deaths 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 a 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 that 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.

Breastfeeding, Chestfeeding, and Lactation Friendly New York (BFF-NY) works to promote and encourage breast/chest feeding and human milk feeding, by improving the continuity of care across racially and ethnically diverse communities. Nine grantees work in community and clinical settings to implement policy and environmental changes to protect, promote, and support breast/chest feeding in worksites, health care practices, public spaces, and community venues where people live, work, play, worship, and receive services. 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 New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute has convened the Congenital Syphilis Elimination Strategic Planning Group (CSESPG) to develop comprehensive strategies and recommend actions as part of the Congenital Syphilis Elimination Framework (CSEF) through a health equity lens. The CSEPG is a community-led effort and is done in partnership with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Although a large proportion of syphilis diagnoses in New York State are in males (birth sex), since 2010, there has been a sustained, significant, and concerning increase in new infections among females (birth sex). Further, the syphilis burden is borne disproportionately by persons of color especially Non-Hispanic Black, Indigenous/Native American, and Hispanic persons.

This fall, the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute will launch a new multimedia campaign (Test4HepC) aimed at raising awareness of hepatitis C among pregnant women in New York State and the importance of getting tested. Hepatitis C has been on the rise in pregnant women. Among the U.S. obstetric population, hepatitis C infection rose nearly 10-fold over the last 20 years. The rate of mother-to-child transmission is 6% - double if mom is also living with HIV. Beginning in May 2024, New York State will require all pregnant women to be tested for hepatitis C during each pregnancy.

The Department implemented Expedited Partner Therapy, a public health strategy to treat sex partners of patients diagnosed with gonorrhea, chlamydia, and/or trichomoniasis, with a goal to promote an "every partner treated" framework and simplify messaging for the community.

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.