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Own Your Health: Oprah’s network unveils new health campaign for Black women

You own your health! You own your health! You own your health! Oprah is not giving away cars, but the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is launching a healthcare initiative dedicated to serving Black women.

The Own Your Health initiative, helmed by OWN, is devised to bring awareness, education and resources to Black women who want to prioritize and take charge of their own health. The campaign will work with health equity leaders to bring healthcare information and resources to Black women through its website and social media channels.

The campaign will focus on three central areas that are the most impactful to Black women’s health—”Proactive Prevention,” the “Unspoken” and “Superwoman.” All three areas focus on aspects of Black women’s health where there is room for improvement, including routine health screenings, good nutrition, exercise and matters that are concealed like fertility issues and trauma. Interestingly, the initiative hopes to address the pressure Black women face in their community to project strength, hide emotions, mask vulnerability and prioritize the health of others at the cost of their own.

“At OWN, we are always striving to meet our audience where she is and to serve her needs,” OWN President Tina Perry said in a statement. “This important initiative supports and empowers Black women, and it has never been more critical to use our wide-reaching platform to ensure they have the tools and resources needed to improve their health and well-being.”

This campaign has been launched at a time when Black women in the U.S. face shocking health disparities that lead to further illness and even preventable death. As is well known to researchers, Black women have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and other female-related cancers, compared to Hispanic and white women. A recent report showed Black women with breast cancer experience delayed or lengthier treatments, compared to white women.

Black women are also disproportionately impacted by pregnancy-related illness and death. They are three times more likely than Hispanic women and 2.5 times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes, according to pre-pandemic statistics provided by the CDC. Most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic shed more light on the imbalance Black women face within the health care system. A recent analysis from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed Black women in the U.S. are dying from Covid-19 at a higher rate than any other group––men and women included––with the exception of Black men.

Given the staggering statistics that unveil the inequities this group faces in the U.S., the Own Your Health initiative will come as a relief for many Black women. Calling it a “much needed forum,” one Facebook user said she “can’t wait to learn for me and others.” Another user said she is excited by the potential of the initiative to be “a trusted space for Black women.”

“COVID-19 and the racial justice movement have also highlighted the need for urgent policy reform to balance disparities that exist in healthcare for Black women, and we look forward to working with our distinguished advisory council on this campaign that will support and uplift our community,” Perry said in the same statement.

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