The Office of Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announces the first-ever federal resource center for women with disabilities as part of the expanding National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC). NWHIC serves as a single gateway to thousands of federal and private sector publications and organizations on women's health through its Web site (http://www.4woman.gov) and toll-free information number (1-800-994WOMAN).
"There are more than 10 million women living in the United States with physical disabilities and millions more with mental and developmental concerns," said David Satcher, M.D., Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary on Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. "In addition to their roles as mothers, wives, friends, workers and community volunteers, they have these added challenges. This special feature is part of our continuing commitment to provide reliable and practical health information relevant to all Americans, no matter how unique their health needs."
The new resource center will offer summaries about critical health issues for a variety of disabilities, including physical, neurological, hearing, speech and visual impairment. The website section will also provide information on mental, learning and developmental disabilities. There will be information on federal and state laws and regulations that protect disabled citizens, news about medical research, statistical information on disabled women for researchers and journalists, and information for health care professionals on what they can do to improve health care access for women with physical limitations. There will be links to sites sponsored by private sector advocacy groups, and special information on the unique needs and concerns of minority women with disabilities.
"Women with physical or mental challenges are often preoccupied with the health issues surrounding their disability, and find it difficult to get information on other important health issues," said Wanda Jones, Dr. P.H., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Women's Health). "We hope this new section will encourage its users to seek the same preventive care so important for all of America's women."
The NWHIC Web site provides links to more than 1,000 federal agencies and publications on women's health as well as a number of related private sector organization Web sites. NWHIC also provides frequently asked questions on top health issues of concern to American women. The site, in operation for less than a year, has already received more than seven million hits from users seeking information on a wide variety of women's health issues. The toll-free number connects the caller to a health information specialist who will refer the caller to the right source of information. Women and their health care providers can also order fact sheets, brochures and other printed materials by phone. Women will be able to offer feedback on the section through NWHIC's e-mail service or toll free telephone number. Information specialists are available on its toll-free telephone service from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. eastern time.
NWHIC is the only combined comprehensive health Web site and hotline service offered by the federal health agencies. It is designed to provide information on how women are uniquely affected by health concerns that threaten the general population, as well as on health issues that are exclusive to women. Other special areas recently developed are a general Spanish-language section, a section devoted to the health concerns of women of color, and a section on men's health designed to help women better understand the health issues of the men in their lives.
The U.S. Public Health Service's Office on Women's Health provides national leadership in advancing women's health. It acts as a catalyst for new national and regional initiatives to improve women's health, including support for 18 Centers of Excellence in Women's Health that serve as models for integrated and comprehensive women's health care services and research.
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