Mayor Eric Adams plans to increase accessibility to women’s health care

Michelle Piong

On Jan. 17, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced his plans to implement a ‘New York City Women’s Health Agenda’ aimed to tear down the systemic inequity that has been a detriment to women for decades.

“For too long health and health care has been centered around men, but that changes today,” said Mayor Adams. “It is long overdue that we break taboos and make New York City a model for the future of women’s health care.”

Major Adams’ agenda currently includes eight goals to create a better future for women’s health in NYC.

One agenda is titled Relaunching the Sexual Health Education Task Force. This task force is aimed to educate young New Yorkers and promote sexual wellness and inclusivity. It will increase community support of sexual health education through information sessions and public awareness campaigns.

Another agenda — Committing to Tracking Prevalence of Different Diseases — intends to utilize their findings on rates and demographics of diseases to influence how city agencies work on women’s health. The city also plans on reporting these indicators to ensure adequate tracking regarding women’s health in New York City.

The Convening a Variety of Leaders to Create a Robust and Comprehensive Women’s Health Agenda will have experts from different subject matters, including research, public health, business, health care and technology convene for a summit during Women’s History Month in March.

The Building on Previous Successes for the City’s Workforce agenda will assemble a committee of experts to build on its past accomplishments already achieved for its workforce, including increasing access to both lactation rooms and paid sick leave for cancer screenings.

The Expanding Access to Medication Abortion at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Clinics agenda will work to provide abortion pills to individuals. DOHMH clinics across the five boroughs are scheduled to start dispensing this medication by the end of the year and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s 11 public hospitals already provide abortion pills.

The Launching a Provider Education Campaign on Maternal Health will launch in the summer of 2023, focusing on supporting those with hypertension and diabetes and will include direct outreach to providers in neighbourhoods that experience health and socioeconomic disparities.

The Launching of a Family-Based Substance Use Disorder Program at H+H will focus on providing support to those who are pregnant and/or parenting while struggling with addiction. This launch will support the healthy, long-term development of children affected by parental substance abuse.

Lastly, the Committing to Exploring the Expansion of and Access to Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy agenda will focus on Pelvic floor dysfunction in women. One in three women will experience a pelvic floor disorder in their lifetime, making it important to identify it before its symptoms worsen.

Women in NYC suffer from preventable health conditions and face distinct health challenges. Health disease is a leading cause of death for women, while breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women after skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women after lung cancer.

An analysis conducted by the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene found that among women, black women were the most affected by hypertension at a rate of 41.6 percent, followed by Latina women at a rate of 26 percent, white women at 20.6 percent and Asian women at 13 percent. These inequities are a result of a variety of causes including poor medical training and quality of available services, as well as the disproportionate use of men in historically conducted clinical research.

According to a study published by AHA Journals, women showed more varied symptoms during a heart attack, otherwise known as a myocardial infarction (AMI), which contributed to the increased likelihood of misdiagnosis in women by 50%. Had there been more studies conducted with women, there would not be such a huge disparity between the two sexes.

“This week is a bitter anniversary as we mark what should have been 50 years of protection of reproductive rights through Roe v. Wade,” said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Rather than focus on what’s lost, we will put our energy toward making gains for women’s health and mobilizing every sector of our city to this cause.