Urges women to seek preventative screenings, health care on Women’s Health Day
SPRINGFIELD – May 15, 2013. An advocate for rural Illinois residents, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today encouraged Southern and Central Illinois women to improve medical research and treatment by signing up for the Illinois Women’s Health Registry.
The registry is designed to help medical professionals understand why diseases effect women differently from men, but to date most of the women enrolled are from the Chicagoland area. This means downstate women’s health needs may be unrepresented, Simon said.
Simon’s message came as she proclaimed it Women’s Health Day alongside officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Northwestern University and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in the Capitol rotunda.
“As women, we are often juggling careers, volunteer work, families and any number of things. It is too easy for us to put our own health on the back burner,” said Simon, who chairs the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council. “But I encourage women, particularly in downstate communities, to take 30 minutes to participate in the Illinois Women’s Health Registry. Just 30 minutes could help improve the quality of health care throughout Illinois for generations to come.”
The Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University maintains the Illinois Women’s Health Registry, which enables women to take a confidential health survey containing questions about family histories, stress and more. Beyond influencing research, the registry helps women understand their own health needs. According to the institute, regular screenings for women are more important, as they are more susceptible than men to developing lung cancer, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and depression.
“The registry will help researchers include more women in their studies so we can better understand how and why illnesses develop in women, how to understand sex and gender differences, and what women can do to lead healthier lives,” said Women’s Health Research Institute Director Teresa Woodruff, PhD. “Women are the health navigators for their families, and we believe that healthy women lead to a healthy state.”
The Office of Women’s Health within IDPH offers a range of programs and services to help improve the health of women in Illinois, including the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) and the WISEWOMAN Program (WIP). The IBCCP enables low-income, uninsured women between the ages of 35 and 64 to access free breast and cervical cancer screenings. The IWIP helps women in 13 Illinois counties who are enrolled in the IBCCP to live heart-healthy lifestyles through screenings and classes that educate participants about meal-planning, increasing physical activity and more.
“We know that most women put the health of their family before their own. But unless women start taking care of their health first, they will not be able to take care of their families,” said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Preventive screenings like those for heart, breast and bone health are key to detecting disease and health problems early, when they can be more easily treated. I encourage women to take steps to live healthier, happier lives.”
For more information about the state’s health programs for women, please call 888-522-1282 or click here. To access the Illinois Women’s Health Registry, click here.