This Women’s History Month, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH)’s Office of Women’s Health and Community Health (OWHCH) will launch its “Listen to H.E.R.: Hearing, Empowering, Responding” town hall series, starting in Baton Rouge.
This town hall, to be held on Tuesday, March 21, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 6201 Florida Blvd., will be the first of nine town halls charged with raising awareness of the new OWHCH, promoting the many health services and programs available to residents, and gathering women’s health needs to inform the office’s priorities and future programming.
The town hall on March 21 in Baton Rouge will feature discussions facilitated by subject matter experts on health issues impacting women across the lifespan, opportunities for networking, activities like yoga and meditation, and exhibitions by community and healthcare provider partners.
Members of the public can register online for the event on March 21 here.
“This Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize not just how far we’ve come but also how much further we have to go to advance equity in Louisiana. OWHCH is committed to advancing women’s and community health across the lifespan in our state, and that commitment starts with centering community voice,” said OWHCH Assistant Secretary Torrie Harris, DrPH, MPH. “That’s why we are organizing the Listen to H.E.R. town halls across Louisiana — so that we can better understand and meet the needs of the communities we serve.”
“Despite progress made we have significant work to do to support women in this state, including reducing gender disparities in health,” said State Senator Regina Barrow. “Louisiana has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the nation, and women are disproportionately impacted by chronic diseases like heart disease. The situation is even worse for Black, low-income and rural women. This is why I advocated for the creation of and am passionate about LDH’s new Office of Women’s Health and Community Health. LDH has long been committed to advancing women’s health issues and concerns; this new hub within the Department will help shine a light on these issues and pull together resources across the agency to advance even greater progress.”
“To make meaningful progress in reducing health disparities and improving health outcomes for all women in Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana, we must first meet women where they are and listen,” said State Representative Denise Marcelle. “I am glad to see this is exactly what the Louisiana Department of Health is doing in holding this town hall for our region — listening and gathering women’s and our communities’ health needs and concerns to shape the priorities of its new Office of Women’s Health and Community Health.”
The primary goal of OWHCH, created during the 2022 Legislative Session, is to provide an agency-wide focus on women’s health outcomes through policy, education, evidence-based practices, programs and services. The office aims to be a clearinghouse, coordinating agency and resource center for women’s health data and strategies, focusing on issues such as needs throughout a woman’s life; chronic or acute conditions; access to healthcare; how poverty impacts women’s health; leading causes of morbidity and mortality and health disparities.
Over the course of FY23, OWHCH will also develop its first annual report for submission to LDH leadership, legislators and Governor John Bel Edwards.
Operationalizing the Office of Women’s Health and Community Health is one of 17 key initiatives outlined in LDH’s FY23 business plan titled “Invest: Teaming Up for a Stronger LDH and a Healthier Louisiana.”
Visit ldh.la.gov/womenshealth to learn more about the OWHCH.