Category: Health & Fitness

Sen. Kamala Harris and Colleagues Introduce Bill to Congress to Improve Maternal Care Access for Black Women

 

Kamala Harris
PHOTO: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

by Abby Gardner via glamour.com

The U.S. is one of 13 countries in the world where maternal mortality rates are worse than they were two decades ago. And that alarming statistic hits one group of women the hardest.

For women of color, pregnancy and childbirth are often a matter of life and death. The risk of death from pregnancy-related causes for black women is three to four times higher than for women of other races. It’s something California Senator Kamala Harris has been vocal about in the past. And she’s pushing to make sure this maternal mortality crisis is being recognized and rectified through new legislation, as well.

Harris (along with 13 Democratic colleagues) introduced a bill Wednesday that she hopes will help lessen the discrepancies in treatment. The Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Act would create two grant programs. One will address implicit bias based on stereotypes by supporting special training programs in medical, nursing, and other training schools. The other will incentivize maternal health care providers to offer integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers and reduce adverse maternal health outcomes, maternal deaths, and racial health disparities.

“Health equity for Black women can only happen if we recognize and address persistent biases in our health system,” Harris said in a press release.

The maternal health of black women has long been suffered in the dark, but in recent months we’ve heard harrowing stories of pregnancy and childbirth complications from two of the most famous women in the world: Serena Williams and Beyoncé.

RELATED: This Way Forward: Community Based Solutions For the African-American Childbirth Crisis

Williams has been incredibly open about her emergency C-section, followed by blood clots in her lungs that threatened her life and required further surgery. And the intensely private Beyoncé revealed in Vogue‘s September issue that she had been on bed rest prior to the birth of twins Rumi and Sir due to toxemia (or preeclampsia) which causes swelling and hypertension. She, too, required an emergency C-section as her life, and the lives of her twins, were at risk.

For Harris, the bill is a continuation of her fight to bring black women’s maternal health care front and center. Earlier this year, she introduced a resolution to designate April 11-17 Black Maternal Health Week.

According to the CDC, the cause of an increase of pregnancy-related mortalities in America is unclear. For women of color, who face a myriad of health care disparities from access to racial bias perpetuated by stereotypes, the combination has proved life-threatening. Racism, researchers say, is at the center of this crisis.

“For example, even when we take medical history into account, black women are two to three times more like to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women with the same condition. And while maternal mortality rates are certainly greater for poor women than wealthier women, poverty alone can’t explain these disparities either. An analysis of maternal deaths in New York City found that black women who had at least a college degree still had greater mortality rates than white women who had not graduated high school,” obstetrician and gynecologist Jamila Perritt wrote for Glamour after Williams came forward with her childbirth experience.

“The bottom line is, black women are dying wholly preventable deaths.”

The Los Angeles Times notes that Sen. Harris’ bill could face an “uphill battle” given that Republicans currently control Congress and few bills may pass in an election year. Other sponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Doug Jones (D-AL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

“This bill is a step towards ensuring that all women have access to culturally competent, holistic care, and to address the implicit biases in our system,” Harris said.

Source: https://www.glamour.com/story/senator-kamala-harris-bill-maternal-mortality-crisis

Taraji P. Henson Launches the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation to Provide Support Around Mental Health Issues in African-American Community

Taraji P. Henson (photo via lasentinel.net)

via lasentinel.net

Academy Award and Emmy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson launched The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF) in honor of her late father in order to help eradicate the stigma around mental health issues in the African-American community and provide support for and bring awareness to mental health issues that plague this community.

“I named the organization after my father because of his complete and unconditional love for me; his unabashed, unashamed ability to tell the truth, even if it hurt; and his strength to push through his own battles with mental health issues,” said Henson. “My dad fought in the Vietnam War for our country, returned broken, and received little to no physical and emotional support. I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are Black.”

To celebrate the foundation’s launch, the star will host a special fundraising event in Beverly Hills, CA on Saturday, September 22. Taraji’s Boutique of Hope will introduce BLHF to the world and will raise funds to support one of the foundation’s pillar goals of advocating for and providing resources to increase mental health support in urban schools. With partnering school districts, BLHF will help to provide more culturally competent mental health therapists, social workers, and counselors to African-American children in need.

“BLHF is breaking the silence by speaking out and encouraging others to share their challenges with mental illness and get the help they need,” said BLHF Executive Director Tracie Jenkins. “African-Americans have regarded such communication as a sign of weakness and our vision is to change that perception.”

BLHF will partner with other nonprofit organizations who offer programs that educate, celebrate, and make visible the positive impact of mental health wellness. Through these partnerships, the foundation will ensure cultural competency in caring for African Americans who struggle with mental illness by providing scholarships to African-American students who seek a career in the mental health field; offer mental health services and programs to young people in urban schools; and combat recidivism within the prison system.

For more information about BLHF, please visit www.borislhensonfoundation.org.

GirlTrek to Host 80 National #BeLikeMaxine Walks to Celebrate Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ 80th Birthday on August 15th

(image courtesy GirlTrek)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

U.S. Representative Maxine Waters will celebrate her 80th birthday on Wednesday, August 15th. To pay tribute to this iconic woman who has dedicated 37 years to serving the people, speaking up against injustice and side-eyeing all manner of foolishness from all quarters, GirlTrek is joining AFROPUNK, Color of Change, and thousands of Black folks across the country in a nationwide #BeLikeMaxine celebration.

GirlTrek, the largest national public health nonprofit and movement for Black women and girls, is organizing 80 walks across the United States in honor of Congresswoman Waters’ 80th turn around the sun. With more than 150,000 members nationwide, GirlTrek encourages Black women and girls to use radical self-care and walking as the first practical step to leading a healthier, more fulfilled life.

“We did it for Harriet Tubman because she showed us the way. Reminded it us that it’s OK to walk alone. We did it for Fannie Lou Hamer because she taught us how to organize. Showed us that every woman can be a leader,” said GirlTrek cofounder T. Morgan Dixon. “Now, we do it for Auntie Maxine because she teaches us daily how to find our voice, how to speak truth to power, how to stand in grace against the storm and how to reclaim our time in the process.”

Elected in November 2016 to her fourteenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 43rd Congressional District of California, Rep. Maxine Waters is considered to be one of the most powerful women in American politics today. She has gained a reputation as a fearless and outspoken advocate for women, children, people of color and the poor.

GirlTrek is inviting women everywhere to reclaim 30 minutes of time in honor of Auntie Maxine by hosting a #BeLikeMaxine walk in their community with their friends and loved ones. “No walk is too small. You + a friend = a celebration,” Dixon said. “Maxine Waters is a living foremother. We walk in her footsteps. We celebrate her.”

Register a #BeLikeMaxine walk here.

About GirlTrek:

GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities. In five years, GirlTrek has mobilized more than 150,000 Black women and girls nationwide. By 2020, GirlTrek’s goal is to motivate 1 million Black women and girls to walk for better health.  GirlTrek has been featured in The New York Times, Essence, shondaland.com, E! News, People magazineThe Tom Joyner Morning Show,  and many other national and regional outlets. The TED TalkWalking as a Revolutionary Act of Self-Care has received more than 1 million views.

Monsanto Ordered to Pay $289 Million to Dewayne Johnson, 46, as Jury Rules its Weedkiller Roundup Caused His Cancer

DeWayne Johnson listens during the Monsanto trial in San Francisco last month. (Photograph: Reuters)

by Sam Levin and Patrick Greenfield via theguardian.com

Monsanto suffered a major blow with a jury ruling that the company was liable for a terminally ill man’s cancer, awarding him $289 million in damages.

Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old former groundskeeper, won a huge victory in the landmark case on Friday, with the jury determining that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer and that the corporation failed to warn him of the health hazards from exposure. The jury further found that Monsanto “acted with malice or oppression”.

Johnson’s lawyers argued over the course of a month-long trial in San Francisco that Monsanto had “fought science” for years and targeted academics who spoke up about possible health risks of the herbicide product. Johnson was the first person to take the agrochemical corporation to trial over allegations that the chemical sold under the brand Roundup causes cancer.

In the extraordinary verdict, which Monsanto said it intends to appeal, the jury ruled that the company was responsible for “negligent failure” and knew or should have known that its product was “dangerous”.

“We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that … Roundup could cause cancer,” Johnson’s lawyer Brent Wisner said in a statement. The verdict, he added, sent a “message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits”.

Speaking in San Francisco on Friday, Johnson said that the jury’s verdict is far bigger than his lawsuit. He said he hopes the case bolsters the thousands of similar lawsuits pending against the company and brings national attention to the issue.

Johnson’s case was particularly significant because a judge allowed his team to present scientific arguments. The dispute centered on glyphosate, which is the world’s most widely used herbicide. The verdict came a month after a federal judge ruled that cancer survivors or relatives of the deceased could bring similar claims forward in another trial.

During the lengthy trial, the plaintiff’s attorneys brought forward internal emails from Monsanto executives that they said demonstrated how the corporation repeatedly ignored experts’ warnings, sought favorable scientific analyses and helped to “ghostwrite” research that encouraged continued usage.

Continue reading “Monsanto Ordered to Pay $289 Million to Dewayne Johnson, 46, as Jury Rules its Weedkiller Roundup Caused His Cancer”

Oregon Komen Foundation Launches Initiative to Reduce Breast Cancer Deaths Among Black Women

The team collecting data to inform a multi-year project, spearheaded by Susan G. Komen Oregon & SW Washington, to address breast cancer disparities in Portland’s African American community includes (from left): Cindy Fletcher, Komen’s director of programs; Dr. Angela Owusu-Ansah, professor of doctoral studies at Concordia University; Bridget Jamieson, Komen’s community programs manager; D. Bora Harris, diversity consultant; and Kelvin Hall, a doctoral candidate and community advocate. (Photo via thelundreport.org)

Cancer has long been a leading killer in the black community. One in nine African-American women in the United States will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Of those, 42 percent more are likely to die of the disease than white women.

“The disparities are shocking,” said Andrew Asato, CEO the local Komen organization.

But there’s little comparable at the a local level, something the Oregon and Southwest Washington chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation hopes to change. The group launched an initiative this week to collect data about health disparities in the black community to learn how health care providers can reduce barriers for black women to access support.

They received a grant from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program to survey the region’s demographics, breast cancer screening habits and barriers to screening and treatment.

The team will be led by Angela Owusu-Ansah, Ph.D, a professor at Concordia University in Portland. It also includes Kelvin Hall, an adjunct professor and doctoral candidate at Concordia, and D. Bora Harris, a diversity consultant.

“As an African-American person, I realize the load on people impacted by cancer,” said Hall, who has had several family members die of the disease. “There needs to be support pieces out there, because it falls on the shoulders of just a few family members.”

The team also will look at the social as well as institutional obstacles African-American women face to health care.

“In addition to health disparities within our underserved and underrepresented communities, as African American women, we have historically been taught to ‘hush’ concerning many things,” Harris said. “This tradition of silence may have negatively impacted several phases of our quality of life in respect to our health.”

Once that data is collected, the nonprofit advocacy group plans to bring a set of recommendations to public and private health care providers, hospitals and community groups to help reduce the rate at which black Portlanders die from breast cancer.

“It is time to move beyond education and do what we can to encourage action,” said Asato.

Source: https://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2018/07/oregon_komen_foundation_launch.html

Dr. Rene Shingles 1st African American Woman Inducted into National Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame

Rene Shingles (Photo Courtesy of National Athletic Trainers’ Association)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Dr. René Revis Shingles made history this month when she became the first African American Woman inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association prestigious Hall of Fame – an honor that to date has been bestowed on only 317 of the association’s 45,000 members. Dr. Shingles – a long-time professor at Central Michigan University – became one of the first African American women to become certified as an athletic trainer in 1987.  The Hall of Fame is the highest honor an athletic trainer can receive and recognizes individuals who exemplify the mission of NATA through significant lasting contributions that enhance the quality of health care provided by athletic trainers.

“While I may be the first, my goal is to ensure that I am not the last. Being an athletic trainer is about providing the highest quality of care to our patients and a tireless dedication to learning, growing and serving. That is what has been bestowed to me by my mentors, and what I hope to continue to contribute to the generations that follow,” said Shingles.

At Central Michigan University, more than 650 students have graduated under her Shingle’s tutelage. She co-authored the first book on cultural competence in athletic training and is considered a national expert on diversity and inclusion in the profession. In 1987, Shingles became the thirteenth African American woman to become a certified athletic trainer. Over the years, she has volunteered in numerous capacities with NATA, the Board of Certification for athletic training and the NATA Research & Education Foundation. For more than 20 years, Shingles has volunteered on the medical staff for the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games. In 1996, she was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as an athletic trainer for the Olympic Games in Atlanta and marched in the opening ceremonies with Team USA.

Shingles is also a founding member of the NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC), established in 1991 as an advisory committee to the NATA board of directors, to identify and address issues relevant to the ethnically diverse populations as well as members of the profession. Shingles currently serves as a mentor both professional and personally to advance the next generation of athletic trainers. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

“We champion the outstanding contributions Dr. Shingles has made – and continues to make – to the profession of athletic training, as well as her commitment and passion for the profession,” says NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC. “The NATA Hall of Fame recognizes the best among the best in our profession, and Dr. Shingles is truly deserving of this award,” said Lindley.

About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association – Health Care for Life & Sport
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 45,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org.

U.S. Navy Finally Joins Army, Air Force and Marines in Lifting Ban on Dreadlocks for Women

Petty Officer 1st Class Jacqualynn Leak hid her locs under a wig for years before fighting to lift the Navy’s dreadlocks ban. (PHOTO COURTESY OF JACQUALYNN LEAK)

by Kenya Downs via huffingtonpost.com

The United States Navy is joining the Marines, Army and Air Force in ending its ban on dreadlocks for female sailors. The naval branch announced the reversal Tuesday in a live broadcast on its Facebook page.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson says the change won’t just make the Navy more formidable, but also more inclusive.

The Navy enlisted a six-person working group to recommend changes to grooming standards, based on feedback from their peers. As part of the decision, ponytails, buns and other styles will also be permissible for women in uniform so long as they don’t interfere with a sailor’s operational or safety needs. Male sailors are still required to keep their hair short.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jacqualynn Leak, a member of the working group, has worn dreadlocks since 2014. She led efforts to reverse the ban and says her fight involved years of research on the cultural and health aspects of wearing locs. She also surveyed dozens of female sailors affected by the ban.

“I wanted to make an argument so compelling that every reason my chain of command could give me for why dreadlocks were banned could easily be rebutted with facts,” she said.

Before, Leak opted to cover her shoulder-length dreadlocks by wearing a wig, which she says became more difficult as her hair grew. Options were even more limited for other female sailors. Some were forced to choose between cutting off their dreadlocks in favor of chemically straightened hair, or facing harsh punishment.

In 2014, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Sims, a hospital corpsman, was honorably discharged for refusing to cut off locs she’d worn in a tight-knit bun for over a decade.

While challenges to military rules on hairstyles aren’t new, controversy surrounding black hair reached a peak around the time of Sims’ discharge. As word spread, revisions to Army grooming regulations were leaked, revealing proposed changes to ban hairstyles common among women of color. The proposed policy, called AR 670-1, would have banned all natural hairstyles, including twists, braids, cornrows and Afros.

Many criticized the regulations as specifically targeting black women. Once it had been made public, the policy faced immediate backlash, culminating in an open letter from the Congressional Black Caucus and an official review ordered by the Pentagon. The decision was ultimately reversed.

But that reversal didn’t include dreadlocks. First Lt. Whennah Andrews of the U.S. Army National Guard has been fighting for servicewomen’s right to wear them ever since. Together with fellow soldiers, Andrews began a campaign to challenge misconceptions many within the military have about dreadlocks’ cleanliness, cultural relevance and ease of use.

Leak enlisted Andrews for guidance when deciding to take on the Navy. Andrews says the Navy’s announcement is the final triumph signaling a victory for military diversity.

“When news broke that the Army lifted the ban on locs, I thought to myself, ‘It’s not a complete win until all of the branches authorize them,’” she said. “The unique challenges African-American servicewomen faced with trying to adhere to grooming policies were universal across the Department of Defense.”

This week’s decision makes the Navy the last branch of the military to drop grooming regulations that prohibit dreadlocks. The Marines first approved locs for women in 2015, and the Air Force announced late last year that dreadlocks would become an approved hairstyle after a review by its uniform board. The Army authorized dreadlocks for women earlier this year after having previously banned them since 2005.

Ernest J. Grant Becomes 1st Male President of the American Nurses Association

American Nurses Association President Ernest J. Grant (photo via uncg.edu)

via jbhe.com

Ernest J. Grant has been elected president of American Nurses Association. When he takes office on January 1, he will be the first man to serve as president of the organization that represents nearly 4 million registered nurses in the United States, about 90 percent of whom are women.

Dr. Grant is an internationally recognized burn care and fire safety expert and oversees the nationally acclaimed North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, where he works with undergraduate and graduate nursing students in the classroom and clinical settings.

Dr. Grant, who has been affiliated with the University of North Carolina Hospitals for 36 years, will step down from his posts at the University of North Carolina in order to devote his attention to his duties as president of the American Nurses Association.

A native of Swannanoa, North Carolina, Dr. Grant completed the licensed practical nurse program at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. He went on to earn  bachelor’s degree in nursing at North Carolina Central University in Durham. Dr. Grant earned a master’s degree in nursing education and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/07/ernest-j-gaines-will-be-the-first-man-to-lead-the-american-nurses-association/

Natural Hair Care Maven and Curls CEO Mahisha Dellinger to Guide Female Entrepreneurs on Summer Series “Mind Your Business With Mahisha” on OWN

Mahisha Dellinger(image courtesy OWN)

by  via deadline.com

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has greenlighted new unscripted series Mind Your Business with Mahisha, featuring Curls CEO and creator Mahisha Dellinger, for premiere Saturday, August 11 at 10 PM.

In the hour-long series, Dellinger focuses on helping female entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. In each standalone episode, Dellinger meets with entrepreneurs and guides them with inspiration and a little bit of tough love. She tests their passion and determination while demanding that they give it their all – just like she did – in order to reach their goals.

This series will feature successful businesswomen including: Gloria Williams, Founder and CEO of Footnanny pedicure products and known as Oprah’s personal pedicurist; Bad Girls Club star Mehgan James, owner of 800 West clothing line; Lia Diaz, owner of The Girl Cave, a three-store chain of beauty bars and beauty supplies in Southern California; and Chef Shalamar Lane, owner of My Father’s BBQ, a family run BBQ restaurant in Carson, California.

Dellinger of South Sacramento, California, turned a creative idea into the multi-million-dollar hair company, Curls, a family of organic hair care products targeted for women embracing their natural textures.

Mind Your Business with Mahisha will follow Iyanla: Fix My Life, (9 p.m. ET/PT) for an all-female led
Saturday night lineup on OWN, the No. 1 network on Saturday nights for African American women.

Read more: https://deadline.com/2018/07/curls-ceo-mahisha-dellinger-summer-series-own-mind-your-business-with-mahisha-1202423965/

Ugandan Inventor Brian Gitta, 24, Wins Royal Academy of Engineering’s Prestigious Africa Prize for Bloodless Malaria Test

Brian Gitta, a 24-year-old Ugandan, became the youngest winner of the Africa Prize this week for developing a bloodless test for malaria. (Photo courtesy Royal Academy of Engineering/Twitter)

by Sara Shayanian via upi.com

June 14 (UPI) — A Ugandan inventor has won the Royal Academy of Engineering‘s prestigious Africa Prize for developing a method of testing for malaria without drawing blood.

Brian Gitta, 24, became the prize’s youngest winner Wednesday after he and his team developed Matibabu, or “medical center” in Swahili, the Royal Academy of Engineering said in a statement.

Gitta’s low-cost, reusable invention clips onto a patient’s finger and provides a result within 60 seconds on a mobile phone. A red beam shines through the user’s finger to detect changes in shape, color and concentration of red blood cells — all of which are affected by malaria.

“We are very proud of this year’s winner. It’s a perfect example of how engineering can unlock development — in this case by improving healthcare,” Africa Prize judge Rebecca Enonchong said. “Matibabu is simply a game-changer.”

Shafik Sekitto, a member of the Matibabu team, told BBC News Gitta came up with the idea for a bloodless test after it once took four normal blood tests for medics to diagnose him with malaria — the leading cause of death in Uganda. “[Gitta] brought up the idea: ‘Why can’t we find a new way of using the skills we have found in computer science, of diagnosing a disease without having to prick somebody?” Sekitto said.

Gitta won more than $33,000 as the first-place winner at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, where Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted for the most promising engineering innovation. Three runners-up won more than $13,000 each. “We are incredibly honored to win the Africa Prize — it’s such a big achievement for us, because it means that we can better manage production in order to scale clinical trials and prove ourselves to regulators,” Gitta said.

“The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities — which is what we need most at the moment.”

The award, founded by Britain’s Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014, is Africa’s biggest prize for engineering innovation.

Source: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2018/06/14/Ugandan-inventor-wins-Africa-Prize-for-bloodless-malaria-test/9671528995279/