Press Release

December 5, 2006


Illinois Department of Public Health Eighth Annual Illinois Women’s Health Conference:
Improving the health of Illinois women and girls

Leading edge information about women’s health issues

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Eighth Annual Illinois Women’s Health Conference, sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Office of Women’s Health, kicks off tomorrow at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. More than 300 counselors, dietitians, health and medical educators, medical professions students, nurses, physicians, physicians assistants and others interested in women’s health issues are expected to attend the two-day conference. This year’s conference topics include: cancer, chemotherapy, acupuncture, arthritis, osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and eating disorders.

“This annual conference is a great opportunity for those involved in women’s health to share and learn about new and innovative resources, services and programs as well as to discuss future trends,” said Acting Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health Office of Women’s Health Jan Costello. “It also offers women’s health advocates the chance to network and build relationships that may help in the women’s health work they do in their own communities.”

The conference features presenters in both general and breakout sessions from clinics and other health organizations, hospitals, local health departments and universities from Illinois and surrounding states. Attendees can also visit numerous exhibitors who will be highlighting many new resources and services.

The first general session features Dr. Karen Wolfe from Mission Viejo, California with Wellness is a Way of Life. The second general session covers Sex and Gender-Based Medicine: Are Women from Venus and Men From Mars? hosted by Dr. Saralyn Mark, Senior Medical Advisor to NASA and Former Senior Medical Advisor to the Office on Women’s Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And the closing session will be lead by Dr. Matthew Sorrentino with University of Chicago Hospitals entitled Women are NOT Small Men – Women and Heart Disease.

“We have made significant progress in women’s health over the years so that we can now compare the similarities and difference between men and women and improve health for both sexes,” said Dr. Mark. “In my presentation, Sex and Gender-Based Medicine: Are Women from Venus and Men From Mars? I use space as a model to discuss why and how sex and gender impact health on earth and in space.”

Health care is priority of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich. Beginning in September 2006 Gov. Blagojevich expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) to allow 3,000 additional uninsured, low income women to be screened and more than 400 additional women to be treated this year through the Healthcare Benefits for Persons with Breast or Cervical Cancer Act.

Since Gov. Blagojevich has taken office, more than 126,000 breast and cervical cancer screenings have been performed through programs in IDPH.

Gov. Blagojevich has made other significant contributions to promote and improve women’s health including:

  • Increased funding for women’s health: Gov. Blagojevich has consistently made women’s health a priority, allocating $24.1 million in state funding for women’s breast and cervical health programs over the last four years. This year, Gov. Blagojevich allocated $2.1 million in new funding to increase eligibility for life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings to women with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • Illinois Healthy Women program: The Healthy Women program, administered by Healthcare and Family Services, has helped women across the state who are losing their Medicaid eligibility stay healthy and promoted healthy births by providing comprehensive coverage for reproductive health care, including annual physicals, Pap smears, mammograms, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives. More than 214,000 women have been offered this program since its inception in 2004.
  • Women’s Health Initiative Grants: For fiscal year 2007 $1.6 million in grants was awarded to organizations across the state to continue or implement IDPH health initiative programs. Those programs include: Heart Smart for Teens, Heart Smart for Women, Building Better Bones, Osteoporosis Prevention for Teens, Jump Girl Jump, Understanding Menopause and the pilot program Comprehensive Women’s Health.
  • Signed women’s health legislation into law: Gov. Blagojevich signed several pieces of legislation affecting women’s health in Illinois. The “Ticket for the Cure” is a new lottery game to raise money for breast cancer research and services. Senate Bill 12 requires insurance companies to cover screening for breast cancer earlier in a woman’s life if her doctor considers her to be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.  House Bill 3564 expanded and renamed the Penny Severns Breast and Cervical Cancer Research Fund to include ovarian cancer research. Senate Bill 521 requires insurers to provide coverage for ovarian cancer screening tests for women who are at risk. In 2004, Gov. Blagojevich also signed legislation creating a 12-member Cervical Cancer Elimination Task Force to help educate the public about cervical cancer and develop a statewide comprehensive prevention and control plan.
  • Illinois Communities of Color Breast and Cervical Cancer Initiative: For fiscal year 2007, Gov. Blagojevich allocated $4.2 million to the Illinois Department of Public Health Center for Minority Health Services for the Illinois Communities of Color Breast and Cervical Cancer Initiative. This Initiative includes Stand Against Cancer and the Hispanic Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. These programs work in collaboration with community and faith based organizations and local health departments to provide outreach, education, and screenings and supports a comprehensive provider network that provides appropriate follow up services. During fiscal year 2006, the Initiative provided women with more than 18,880 screenings and reached more than 158,000 women with educational information.
  • IllinoisWISEWOMAN Program:  Providing the WISEWOMAN cardiovascular research program in both English and Spanish languages in 21 Illinois counties.  The project is targeted toward women enrolled in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and helps them reduce heart disease by leading healthier lifestyles.
  • Women’s Health-Line:  Increased access to services through Women’s Health-Line and other informational resources.  In FY06, the state-funded toll-free Women’s Health-Line responded to more than 2,000 requests, referring women to services and providing more than 223,757 free educational materials to women and community providers. These materials are also available through the department’s website.

Women can find out how to get breast cancer screening and treatment by logging on to or by calling the Women’s Health-Line at 888-522-1282 or for TTY (hearing impaired use only), 800-547-0466. Information on women’s health issues and programs can also be found on the IDPH website,

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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