By Millicent Gorham
All women and girls deserve the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. As the first CEO of the Alliance for Women’s Health & Prevention (AWHP), I am fully and faithfully committed to advancing policy that drives equitable access and prevents the burden and progression of disease, with the ultimate goal of improving the lives and health of all women and girls. A social prescription to bolster access to preventive care for women and girls across the lifespan is needed now more than ever.
A new survey commissioned by AWHP and Ipsos reveals that nearly half of women (45%) in the US are forgoing preventive care services like check-ups, screenings, and vaccines, and the inability to afford out-of-pocket costs is the most common reason women cite for skipping this critical care. We know that the benefits of early detection, screening, and other preventive services cannot be overstated. Early and equitable access to screening and diagnosis, vaccines, and other preventive treatments saves lives. As a nation, we cannot wait to amplify the critical need for access to affordable, high-quality preventive care. The time for policy change is now.
I cut my health policy chops on Capitol Hill in the office of Congressman Louis Stokes, a champion for improving healthcare access for working–class Americans. I know that positive healthcare outcomes for millions of women and girls are inextricably tied to the advocacy efforts of those non-partisan, non-profit organizations like AWHP.
Our driving focus areas are addressing upstream social and environmental factors; advancing access to care and treatment; promoting early detection and diagnosis; and advancing vaccine access and affordability.
From my time on Capitol Hill, to my experiences with the National Rural Health Association, the National Black Nurses Association and, most recently, with Movement is Life, I have worked for more than 30 years to positively impact health outcomes with a focus on women and underserved communities. Advancing equitable care by eliminating barriers is my divine calling.
I have been entrenched in the work of AWHP since it launched last fall, serving as its Board Chair. As CEO, I am thrilled to lead an inclusive organization advocating for women and girls regardless of race, ethnicity, age, income, and geography. We have a special opportunity to offer a social prescription everywhere – driving prevention-focused policy.
Women are the foundation of their families. When we work to improve the health of our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunties, we positively impact the trajectory of entire communities. As CEO, I want to advance policies that ensure that women and girls have access to the right care, at the right time, with the right providers.