By Marcela Vargas, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and it kicked off National Women’s Health Week, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health to encourage women to prioritize their physical and mental health. Women were also encouraged to take steps such as paying attention to mental health, eating healthy, participating in physical activity, and getting regular checkups and health screenings.
Here at IHH, we have our own efforts to promote women’s health. Among these efforts is our project Mujer Sana, Familia Fuerte(Healthy Woman, Strong Family)—funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—which educates women in Chicago and Washington, D.C., around cervical cancer prevention through community health workers.
Cervical cancer prevention is also near and dear to us at IHH for many reasons. Latinas have the second-highest rate of both contracting and dying from cervical cancer out of all racial and ethnic groups. Despite this, Latinas are not getting screened for cervical cancer as regularly as is recommended.
But it’s not all bad news. Not only is cervical cancer preventable, but it is also easily treated if caught in early stages. Getting routine Pap tests is a valuable way of identifying cervical cancer when treatment is still simple and effective. The CDC reports that 60 percent of cervical cancer cases occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested within the last five years.
Today is the last day of National Women’s Health Week, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about our health. You can take your own steps to help yourself or a loved one prioritize a healthy life. Pledge to become a well woman and educate yourself about Latinas and cervical cancer.