The second annual Women’s Health Awareness Day April 2 attracted nearly 600 women, men, and children to the campus of North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, North Carolina. The event provided a wealth of activities to educate and inspire the diverse group of people of all ages who participated.
Health information sessions, activities, and resources offered by businesses and organizations were complemented by an array of free medical services, such as mammograms, sight and hearing tests, and screenings for lung cancer, heart health, kidney function, HIV, and more. Medical and public health experts were on hand to explain results and advise on next steps.
Women’s health translates to community health
The theme, “Transforming Communities by Enhancing Women’s Health,” recognized that women are typically the caretakers of the family.
“If we can educate and motivate women to take care of their health first, they will in turn make sure that their family’s health is taken care of, and that translates to communities, states, and the nation,” said Joan Packenham, Ph.D., chair of the event steering and planning committee, director of the NIEHS Office of Human Research Compliance, and lead for the NIEHS Women’s Health Awareness Day.
Packenham noted that all sessions this year featured environmental health awareness. “By better understanding how the environment affects our health, we can make greater strides toward healthy living,” she said.
Speakers and local officials share data, encourage action
Packenham’s comments were underscored during the keynote presentation by Haywood Brown, M.D., chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the Duke University School of Medicine. “You cannot be healthy if you don’t think about the environment we live in, and the communities we live in,” he said. “They impact our mental health, our physical health, and our social health.”
Other speakers shared statistics about women’s health in the Triangle area of North Carolina, and on health disparities among disadvantaged communities. Gayle Harris, director of the Durham County Department of Public Health, stressed the collective impact that organizations, both public and private, can have. “No one individual or organization can do the great work that’s needed, as we try to move health forward,” she said.
Harris commended the collaboration between event sponsor NIEHS and co-sponsors Durham Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and the NCCU Public Health Education Department. NIEHS highlighted the day as a signature event in its 50th anniversary celebration.
Serving the whole community
Planners were mindful of the varied needs of local women. Materials and signs were in both English and Spanish, and interpreters were on hand. Also, a mobile health unit from the Department of Veterans Affairs was on-site.
“I had to miss it last year, but no way was I going to miss it this year,” said one attendee, enjoying the healthy lunch that was provided as part of the free event. “I expected to learn a lot today,” said her friend, “but I didn’t know it was going to be so much fun.”