For some illnesses, women here are similar to women nationwide. For example, among U.S. adults more women than men have asthma. In Harris County about seven and a half percent of women have asthma, compared to 4 percent of men.
But Harris County women fare poorly in other areas. Nationally, about 13 women die in childbirth for every 100,000 births. But in Texas the rate is 22 women and in Harris County it’s 31 women. And one-third of Harris County women are uninsured, far above national rates. Dr. Joey Fisher is president of the Women’s Health Network:
“There is a problem locally, statewide and nationally about many individuals not having health insurance, but women oftentimes are significantly affected by it, because women tend to be employed by small businesses, or work part-time so they’re not able to access health insurance.”
Fisher says the national health reform law could help some uninsured women afford doctor visits. But more coverage does not solve the problem of resources. Fisher says Harris County needs more mammogram machines and more places for women to get basic care such as Pap screenings for cervical cancer. One in five women here don’t get Pap smears regularly.
“It’s an important figure because cervical cancer is a preventable disease essentially if women get the recommended well-woman exam with a pap smear, you can essentially prevent it. So this is, I think, a travesty. And women of color are disproportionately affected.”
For more information, read the report “The Status of Women’s Health in Houston/Harris County: A Snapshot.”