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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2008

Governor Blagojevich announces national funding for Illinois program designed to help women live healthier, longer lives
Illinois WISEWOMAN Program works to lower heart disease,promotes a healthy

CANTON – In his continued push to improve the health of all Illinoisans, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently awarded more than $800,000 to the Illinois WISEWOMAN (Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation).  Illinois is one of only 21 applicants to receive funding in the first nationally competitive non-research grant application in which all 68 states, tribes and territories were allowed to compete.
 
“We continue to strive to provide programs and access to healthcare to help the people of Illinois live longer and healthier lives,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “Illinois is a leader in women’s health and a model for the rest of the country.  Illinois is first and only state to provide free breast and cervical cancer screenings and low-cost treatment to uninsured women through our expanded Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), and I am pleased the CDC has recognized our efforts to help women reduce their risk of heart disease.”
 
Illinois was chosen as a result of five successful years of intensive research work by the Illinois WISEWOMAN staff, its collaborators and its local program sites.  The Program aims to lower heart disease and other chronic disease risk factors through screening and a lifestyle intervention program.  WISEWOMAN is a four-week nutrition and healthy living program that helps women improve eating and physical activity habits, helps them set goals and gain stress management skills and identifies the importance of keeping a supportive and healthy environment.  Funding from the CDC will help Illinois implement the lifestyle intervention program in designated areas throughout the state, with the goal of serving at least 1,100 women in Fiscal Year 2009.
 
On behalf of Governor Blagojevich, Illinois Department of Public Health Director, Dr. Damon T. Arnold, joined women who participated in the pilot project for the WISEWOMAN Program at the Fulton County Health Department, today.
 
“Our goal is to provide women with the knowledge, skills and opportunities to improve diet, physical activity and other lifestyle behaviors to prevent, delay and control cardiovascular and other chronic diseases,” said Dr. Arnold.  “I’m excited Illinois was chosen to receive federal funding to continue this lifesaving program.”
 
All Illinois WISEWOMAN program participants receive baseline screening tests which consist of total lipid profile, blood glucose, blood pressure, dietary intake, physical activity level, height and weight.  After the screenings, participants are then offered the opportunity to join a class with four weekly sessions that address nutrition and physical activity.  If screenings indicate something needs attention, the participant will see a medical provider at no cost.  Additionally, the program assists participants with finding free or reduced cost medications if necessary and link them with resources for other needs such as smoking cessation.
 
“When a family does not have health insurance to cover screenings and preventative care, a woman frequently puts her own health as a lower priority than her family’s need for health care.  This grant has allowed these WISEWOMAN participants to have screenings for these risk factors, many for the first time.  The intervention sessions provided a knowledge base and skills for them to improve their diet, physical activity and life habits.  Without this grant, these screenings would not have been done.  The impact on these women and their families has been tremendous,” said Mary E. England, Fulton County Health Department Administrator.
 
Currently, uninsured women between the ages of 40 and 64, at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level, who are currently enrolled in the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, are eligible to participate in the Illinois WISEWOMAN Program in 11 Illinois counties.
 
Last year, the CDC chose Illinois’ Program as one of six women’s health curriculums it will offer to states, tribes and territories across the country looking to improve women’s health.  Funding from the CDC will allow the Illinois WISEWOMAN Program to continue to deliver its first-rate curriculum to more participants, ensuring a healthier and happier future for women across Illinois.


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