Jewish Healthcare Foundation program aims to improve women's health, create leadership opportunities

Women are still underrepresented in healthcare industry leadership, but a new initiative launched by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation wants to change that. 

WHAMglobal, short for Women's Health Activist Movement Global, seeks to form "networks of advocates in women's health to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes, equity and leadership," wrote JHF CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein, Ph.D., in a Health Affairs blog post

The group, according to Feinstein, is focused on "big ideas" that tackle key issues while bringing communities together over shared goals—and expanding them to other communities, too.

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To gather those ideas, WHAMglobal challenged 20 Pittsburgh-area nonprofits to create their best plan to improve women's health. The winner, the Latino Community Center, aims to improve maternal health outcomes for the growing Latino population in the region, Feinstein said. 

In partnership with the center, WHAMglobal will create a maternal health-focused program. It will offer training and advancement opportunities to community health workers in maternal health. The organization is also forming an advisory community to devise more ways to improve women's health and the community health worker model. 

"We are, in short, unlocking the Wonder Woman–like qualities that we all possess to fight injustices in the health system," Feinstein wrote. 

RELATED: Nurse education key to curbing maternal death rate 

Women's health is in the national spotlight this week as the Trump administration has announced more exemptions from the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate on religious and moral grounds. Women's health advocacy groups have criticized the move. 

Rural health is where efforts like WHAMglobal could truly shine, as a shortage of physicians has especially impacted expectant mothers. Rural hospitals that lack an obstetrics specialist still turn away women in labor, sending them to emergency rooms that are many more miles away. 

A dearth of OB-GYN specialists is expected as more physicians age and retire, as FierceHealthcare has reported.