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FitFile: Women's health campaign launched

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WASHINGTON, Oct 7, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- The Society for Women's Health Research and Verizon have launched a groundbreaking health literacy campaign for women.

The "Her Healthy Life" program will focus on educating primarily low-income and immigrant women about simple steps for healthier living. "These women are less likely to get the health care they need," said Phyllis Greenberger of the Society for Women's Health Research. "We really hope this makes a difference in people's lives."

The Society for Women's Health, established in 1990, is a non-profit organization promoting women's health through a combination of research, education and advocacy. The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic branch of Verizon Communications, supports organizations promoting literacy as well as computer and technology skills.

The "Her Healthy Life" initiative will concentrate on exercise, nutrition and motivating women to stop smoking -- all goals that don't depend on having healthcare coverage. The messages are targeted to women with low health-literacy skills -- the ability to read, understand and act on health information -- as defined by the Center for Health Care Strategies.

According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 66 percent of U.S. citizens over age 60 have inadequate or marginal literacy skills. When low literacy is mixed with vital medical information, the result can be deadly: Such patients are five times more likely to misunderstand their prescriptions and twice as likely to be hospitalized.

They are also less likely to understand written information from healthcare providers, act appropriately on those instructions or successfully navigate the healthcare system.

"Women make the majority of health decisions for their family, so it is important to give them the information they can use to make good choices," said Greenberger.

English and Spanish radio public service announcements will begin airing nationally the week of Oct. 10 on the Dr. Laura and the Doctora Isabel programs. Actress Fran Drescher is serving as the spokeswoman for the initiative and recorded two PSA's for air. Dr. Isabel Gomez-Bassols recorded the Spanish messages. Verizon provided a $145,000 grant to the campaign for such expenses.

In addition, 300,000 brochures for the campaign, 75,000 of those in Spanish, will be distributed by the National Center for Family Literacy.

"Low-income women will now have health literature at their fingertips," said the center's Emily Kirkpatrick. The literature will be posted on the organization's Web site, and 6,000 literacy programs around the country will have access to the materials.

A companion Web site features in-depth information for health and literacy professionals.

"We are committed to using broadband and all other communication resources to make a difference," said Kathryn Brown, a senior vice president at Verizon. "We know when women are educated and healthy, they and their families flourish."

October bill statements to Verizon customers feature health-literacy information and encourage individuals to study the subject.


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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