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For Release:
May 11, 2009

Heather Howard

For Further Information Contact:
Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160
Dawn Thomas
(609) 984-7160

National Women’s Health Week


May 10-16 is National Women’s Health Week, a time for women to make their own health a priority and take steps toward living longer, healthier lives, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard announced today.


“During this National Women’s Health Week, it is important that we encourage women to take action to improve their health and prevent disease,” Governor Jon S. Corzine said.  “Research shows that when women take care of themselves, the health of their family also improves.”


“We need to educate women about the importance of safeguarding their health while caring for their families and others.  Whether it’s eating healthier foods, finding time to exercise or getting that overdue medical checkup, making small changes now can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, depression and other health problems later,” the Commissioner said.


Groups around New Jersey are marking National Women’s Health Week with events to empower women and raise awareness about women’s health.  Three such events are:


  • Women’s Caregiver Retreat – The DHSS Office on Women’s Health, the Family Support Center of New Jersey, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are presenting a May 14 retreat at the Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton Center for Health and Wellness, Mercerville.  The retreat features speakers, health screenings, support and renewal services, and workshops on fitness, healthy cooking and stress reduction.  Commissioner Howard is a featured speaker.  Gloria Boseman, PhD, RN, a professor at New Jersey City University, will give the keynote address, “Put Your Oxygen Mask on First: Role Overload in Caregiving Women.”  To register, visit


  • Women’s Health Advocates Recognition Brunch – On Wednesday, May 13, the New Jersey Primary Care Association will host its annual brunch honoring women who have had a positive impact on the health of New Jersey residents.  Celeste Andriot-Wood, the DHSS Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Family Health Services, will be honored for her work advocating for the health of women, children and families.


  • Newark Women’s Health Symposium – On Saturday, May 16, about 800 women from Newark and around the state will attend a symposium on the health issues that African-American women face.  Commissioner Howard and Newark Mayor Cory Booker are among the speakers. The symposium also features fitness classes, healthy cooking demonstrations, panel discussions and workshops, exhibits and health screenings. R & B singer Deborah Cox will close the event with a live performance. The symposium at Essex County College in Newark is free, but registration is required.  It is sponsored by the BET Foundation, the City of Newark, General Mills and the DHSS Office of Minority and Multicultural Health.  For more information, call 1-866-356-7348 or visit



Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women nationwide, followed by cancer, chronic pulmonary disease and stroke.   In addition, women are disproportionately affected by other debilitating diseases such as osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders and depression.  More than 90 percent of all victims of domestic and sexual violence are female.


African American women have the highest rate of stroke death in the state, and they are more than twice as likely to die from diabetes compared with the state’s total female population.  Death rates from HIV disease are more than four times higher in Black women than in women statewide. 


As part of the Department’s efforts to improve women’s health in New Jersey, Commissioner Howard embarked on a prenatal care campaign to raise awareness of the critical relationship between being a healthy woman and having a healthy baby.  During visits to Federally Qualified Health Centers, Women, Infant and Children (WIC) clinics, college campuses, a conference for women and a baby shower for pregnant women and expectant fathers, Commissioner Howard emphasized the need for women to maintain a healthy lifestyle before, during and in between pregnancies.  The campaign followed the release of the Prenatal Care Task Force report, which recommended raising awareness of preconception care and family planning services among women before they get pregnant, to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.


The DHSS Office of Minority and Multicultural Health works to promote the health of racial/ethnic minorities and reduce the disparities in health status that affect minority populations.  The Office of Women’s Health is the lead state government agency for women’s health, and works with other public and private, non-profit agencies to improve the health and quality of life of New Jersey women.


For more information on the 10th Annual National Women’s Health Week, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health web page at:  For general information on women’s health, visit


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