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Cincinnati First Lady launches program to improve health

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A new effort is underway in Cincinnati to address health disparities in urban neighborhoods.  First Lady Dena Cranley and about 20 pastors' wives are involved in the program.  

Cranley launched the First Ladies Health Initiative Friday during an event at City Hall.

“This initiative will leverage the leadership of the first ladies of the churches of Cincinnati to empower their congregation and community to make smart decisions about health and wellness,” Cranley said.   

It is a two-pronged program that begins annually with a recruitment luncheon and workshop in May 2015.

That will be followed with a Health Day in October 2015, where medical professionals will perform free screenings for some chronic illnesses at the participating churches.  Those include tests for illnesses including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer and other diseases that are disproportionately deadlier among African Americans.  

“By taking one day, the same day, to pause and focus on our health in every neighborhood and community across Cincinnati, we are drawing on the enormous power of unity,” Cranley said.  “And declaring to ourselves, our families, our churches, our community and our city, we are taking charge of our health.”

The First Ladies each select the health tests they would like to have available at their churches, and medical volunteers from organizations including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, Susan G. Koman and local hospitals comply with their requests.  At least one pharmacist will be at each church to provide blood pressure screenings and administer free flu shots.

Part of the effort will involve young mothers, including how pre-natal care and preventative measures can lead to health babies.  The city's infant mortality rate is routinely higher than the national average.  Nearly 10 newborns died per 1,000 births in Cincinnati last year, compared to the national average of 6.1 per 1,000 live births.