From the marble halls of Congress to the kitchen tables across the country, there has been much talk about women’s health in recent months. And in the city that is home to the U.S. Capitol – and some of the nation’s poorest health outcomes – the same issue took center stage this week.
The Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association convened its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., to explore opportunities to open a new dialogue about the importance not only of prevention but advocacy, too.
The theme of the meeting, “Healthy Women, the Cornerstone of Strong Societies: Setting the Agenda for Women’s Health,” was selected given the ongoing controversy surrounding coverage of preventive care services for women among the other topics over the past year that could impact the health of women.
“It’s crucial to empower women so they can become advocates for their health,” said Aisha Moore, president of MWPHA.
The meeting also focused on a variety of health challenges specific to the nation’s capital, particularly in Ward 8, an area with some of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the country.
“Many people who are making decisions that impact women’s health don’t really know the depth of the issues,” said Patricia Nalls, executive director of the Women’s Collective. Nalls, who was diagnosed with AIDS in the late ‘80s is working to ensure that HIV-positive women sit at policy tables, testify at city council meetings and make trips to Capitol Hill.
“We have to create a system where women don’t have to sacrifice their health in order to care for their families,” said Nalls.
Housing, food deserts and other structural and environmental factors that pose tremendous barriers to health for women and their families were also discussed at the meeting.
Mighty Fine contributed to this article.