Marlborough, Mass.-based Hologic announces the launch of Project Health Equality (PHE), an initiative that strives to address the structural and cultural barriers that prevent Black and Hispanic women in the U.S. from receiving the same quality healthcare as white women. PHE will focus initially on how healthcare is experienced by thousands of Black and Hispanic women in regions across the United States. It will leverage crucial partners to make meaningful, sustainable healthcare improvements in these communities.
Project Health Equality is a multifaceted, multiyear investment of more than $20 million to drive research, education, and access to ensure women of color receive the care they want, need, and deserve. It accelerates and expands Hologic’s existing efforts to increase screening and care across a spectrum of life-threatening conditions—breast cancer, cervical cancer, and abnormal uterine bleeding—that disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic women. The goal of PHE is to innovate culturally competent care delivery, improve public health policy, increase access, and ultimately decrease disparities that lead to disproportionate mortality for Black and Hispanic women.
In the U.S., Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancerand two times more likely to die from cervical cancerthan white women. They also have a 14% higher incidence of cervical cancer than white women.Meanwhile, Hispanic women are 40% more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 20% more likely to die from it compared to non-Hispanic white women.Finally, Black women experience fibroids up to three times more frequently than other racial groups.
“Our goal is to end the disconnect between the care Black and Hispanic women receive and the care they should receive,” says Karleen Oberton, Hologic’s chief financial officer. “Project Health Equality is about doing the big, bold work necessary to create equity in the here and now that can reverberate across women’s lives and society for generations to come.”
Combating Health Disparities That Affect Black and Hispanic Women
PHE is a holistic approach to solving the systemic and cultural issues that continue to exacerbate inequality in women’s healthcare through:
- Research: Hologic is conducting research to inform actionable insights into cultural, social, and economic disparities to ensure that Black and Hispanic women in the U.S. can access and receive the best healthcare available. This will inform the company’s next steps on the path to scalable solutions. For example, a report published in February 2021 in the Journal of the American College of Radiologyshowed that Black women are more likely to receive inferior breast cancer screening than white women.
- Patient and provider awareness and education: With health advocates like the Black Women’s Health Imperative and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, Hologic is developing a dedicated website, printed materials, social media assets, and celebrity partnerships to help healthcare professionals, providers, community health workers (promotores), policymakers, and others implement solutions to address the barriers that impact the healthcare experiences of Black and Hispanic women.
- Access to care: In collaboration with radiologic nonprofit RAD-AID, Hologic is expanding the delivery of care, from screenings through treatment, for thousands of underserved women. Specifically, Hologic and RAD-AID are partnering with Federally Qualified Health Care Centers, local community health clinics, and tertiary care institutions across the United States, including in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Washington, D.C., to ensure greater access and higher-quality healthcare.
Partnering with Others to Get the Job Done
Since its founding, Hologic has been a champion of women’s health, and PHE is just the latest example of its commitment, company officials say. PHE extends Hologic’s long-time partnership with a variety of international organizations whose contributions to women’s health have already made a meaningful difference in the lives of Black and Hispanic women globally.
“While we have a 36-year legacy of serving women with the most scientifically and technologically advanced health products and services, the challenges are too ingrained, too big, and too complex for any one organization to solve,” says Meg Eckenroad, vice president, women’s health, Hologic.
She adds, “We cannot reach the goals of PHE without partnering with other effective organizations whose values, vision, and expertise complement our own, and who have unique insights into these communities. Our ongoing partnerships with the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, and RAD-AID will be critical to our success.”
- Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) is the only national organization devoted solely to advancing the health and wellness of America’s 22 million Black women and girls and has been a partner of Hologic since 1998. BWHI is a crucial partner in addressing racial and systemic barriers to care for Black women and reaching them in a way that is relevant and impactful. In October 2020, BWHI and Hologic launched the P.O.W.E.R of Sure campaign—a multiyear commitment to decreasing breast cancer screening disparities for Black women. The campaign features Mary J. Blige and provides a wealth of resources for Black women about mammography.
- National Alliance for Hispanic Health (The Alliance) and its supporting organization, the Healthy Americas Foundation (HAF). The Alliance is a nonprofit and nonpartisan advocacy organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Hispanics, which Hologic has partnered with since 2014. It is a trusted thought partner of Hologic and is providing critical insights into Hispanic women/Latinas so PHE programs can effectively address barriers to healthcare that Hispanics regularly experience. HAF launched Mi Hermana—Latina Health Champions to provide training and support so women can better manage and advocate for their own health.
- RAD-AID is an international nonprofit organization working to increase and improve radiology in low-resource and medically underserved regions of the world. RAD-AID has been a partner with Hologic in a variety of efforts going back to 2017. With support from PHE, RAD-AID will identify communities in need and implement strategies for screening and diagnostic services to ensure effective pathways for medically disenfranchised women to receive treatment. The company’s grants to RAD-AID for this initiative will support innovative care, radiology, public education, nursing, and patient navigation at sites selected by RAD-AID as clinical partners to provide critical screening, diagnostic breast imaging and treatment for women who may otherwise go without.