NYC Mayor Vows to Dismantle ‘Inequity’ in Women’s Health Care

January 17, 2023 by Dan McCue
NYC Mayor Vows to Dismantle ‘Inequity’ in Women’s Health Care

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Eric Adams outlined his vision for a new “New York City Women’s Health Agenda” Tuesday aimed at ending what he called “decades of systemic inequity” that has negatively impacted women across the city’s five boroughs.

“For too long health and health care has been centered around men, but that changes today,” Adams said during a mid-morning press conference.

“We have been standing on the sidelines of women’s health for too long, and I have personally seen firsthand how the health system is letting our women down,” he said.

“It is long overdue that we break taboos and make New York City a model for the future of women’s health care. We are going to build a city that is here for all women and girls,” he added.

According to a hand-out from the city, historic inequities in care have led to a range of health issues for women living in New York ranging from exposure to easily preventable diseases to a lack of adequate mental health care.

Among a host of staggering statistics was this one — the average maternal mortality rate among Black pregnant women is more than nine times the rate of White pregnant women. 

Measures Adams announced today included relaunching the city’s Sexual Education Task Force — a partnership between the city’s Commission on Gender Equity, the New York City Department of Education and the mayor’s Office of Equity. 

The task force will educate the youngest New Yorkers and create a culture of sexual wellness and inclusivity. 

Additionally, the task force will work to update and implement 11 recommendations that it initially offered up in 2018 — including ensuring school staff have basic competencies around inclusivity and respect and that they can also link students to appropriate sexual health resources outside the school setting.

In addition, the task force will work toward increasing broad community support of sexual health education through public awareness campaigns and information sessions. 

In addition, the city is stepping up its efforts to track the infection rate of several diseases, including cancer and heart disease. It will also place a new emphasis on monitoring the prevalence of various mental health issues and life expectancy.

Adams said his administration will leverage findings to shape the work that city agencies carry out regarding women’s health. 

Adam also announced he is convening a number of “thought leaders” for a health-related summit in March to coincide with Women’s History Month.

And in order to ensure that there’s no back-sliding on past successes in regard to its own workforce, the city is assembling a committee of experts to promote workplace health initiatives ranging from greater access to lactation rooms to paid sick leave for cancer screenings.

Beginning Wednesday, the city will also be expanding access to abortion pills through a number of its clinics.

Also at the clinic level, the city is stepping up its efforts to address hypertension, diabetes and substance abuse.

For instance, a new substance use disorder program will focus on providing support to those who are pregnant and/or parenting and struggling with addiction, while additionally providing their children with mental health support and other services.

The program will integrate family medicine, behavioral health, and addiction medicine across a continuum of care. Concurrently, the program will also address primary care, as well as psychosocial and mental health needs of children. In doing so, this model will support the healthy, long-term development of children affected by parental substance abuse.

“This agenda puts women’s health inequities front and center and will lead to inclusive and intersectional strategies that improve health and wellbeing across our city,” said New York City Mayor’s Office of Equity Commissioner Sideya Sherman.

New York City Commission on Gender Equity Executive Director Jacqueline Ebanks agreed. 

“With the launch of the New York City’s Women’s Health Agenda, we change that trajectory and provide better options for all to protect and improve their health,” she said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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