With the future of healthcare uncertain in the U.S., it’s crucial for Black women to prioritize their physical and mental health. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke from New York’s 9th district has introduced a resolution that would add a Black Women’s Health Week to the national health observances roster.
This would designate a time of the year to focus on Black women’s health and increase conversations to address some of the most prevalent health concerns of this community. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation reports that while Black women have slightly lower new cases of breast cancer they also have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer. The U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reports African American women disproportionately affected by obesity and type 2 diabetes. The CDC Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System reports that 42.8% pregnancy-related deaths in America are black women, this 2011 statistic shows an increase from 34% in 2007.
Rep. Yvette D. Clarke stated,
“Most of the aforementioned health inequities could be resolved if not for the lack of clinical trials and limited research dollars that incorporate the lived experiences of Black women and are directed toward the improvement of the health of Black women.”
Recent history shows that Black women are making improvements. They have seen improvement with teen pregnancy, the amount of AIDS cases has decreased, and overall use of contraception has remained positive. Rep. Clarke serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls and is hoping this new resolution will lead to more progress.
Clarke also cites economic inequalities as one of the reasons why Black women are having difficulties with their health. Black women earn 64 cents for each dollar a While man earns and there is also a lack of funding for research. These numbers show the unique situation Black women face in regard to their health.
Rep. Clarke said to ESSENCE, “Part of my personal fight is to ensure that Black women’s health is part of the healthcare conversation and that our healthcare needs are addressed. One step in ensuring that Black women’s voices are heard is the Black Women’s Health Week resolution that I’ve introduced.”
We hope that this resolution will come to pass and lead to greater improvements in Black women’s health.