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Nationwide campaign promotes simple steps to womenís wellness (5-12-00)

Local effort led by Health Science Centerís Hispanic Center of Excellence

Recognizing that women have multiple demands on their time and energy, a new nationwide, community-based education campaign launching the week after Motherís Day will help them take simple and time-sensitive steps to improving their health.

Previous health campaigns emphasized long-term goals, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. In a departure designed to work with todayís multi-tasking, multi-cultural society, this new approach will suggest specific, life-oriented action stepsósuch as taking the stairs instead of the elevatoróin an effort to ease the path to wellness.

Dubbed Pick Your Path to Health, the new campaign from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Womenís Health will encourage health awareness among all women, but it will emphasize African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic American, and American Indian and Alaska Native women.

San Antonio was selected by the Office of Womenís Health as one of five cities to participate in this media campaign. Other cities include Indianapolis, Boston, Pittsburgh and Seattle. San Antonio was selected because of its large Hispanic population.

Local efforts, led by the Hispanic Center of Excellence at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, will include partnering with a number of organizations via a local advisory board to assist planning yearlong activities and dissemination of materials to women in the community.

Research has shown that despite gains made in life expectancy in the United States over the past century, gaps in health outcomes persist among ethnic groups. For example, between African Americans and Caucasians, for which the most data is available, African American women are 25 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 86 percent more likely to die from a stroke.

"Women are the heart of the Hispanic family. If they are healthy, so are their families," said Martha Medrano, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Hispanic Center of Excellence.

The public education campaign coincides with the kick-off of the newly declared National Womenís Health Week, from May 14 to May 20, and begins on Motherís Day. Dr. Medrano and Dominga Silguero of San Antonio will travel to Washington, D.C., to read a San Antonio proclamation recognizing National Womenís Health Week. Silguero is a volunteer at the University Health Systemís Barrio Comprehensive Family Health Clinic in San Antonio, and she also serves as a community representative to the local Pick Your Path to Health Advisory Board.

In keeping with Healthy People 2010, the nationís goals for this decade that were announced in January, Pick Your Path to Health will bring together key community-based activities with national efforts that are ultimately aimed at eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health status.

The U.S. Office on Womenís Health is working with local partners, such as the Health Science Centerís Hispanic Center of Excellence, to provide assistance and develop educational events. Other communities can download the Community Action Kits from the Office of Womenís Health Web site. The kits will contain a national poster, materials on healthy picks for each month, fact sheets and media materials.

More information about the campaign and National Womenís Health Week is available from the Office on Womenís Health Web site at <http://www.4woman.gov>, or from the Hispanic Center of Excellence.

Contact: Will Sansom