Celebrating NHC Members Focusing on Women’s Health


By Theo Smith, Associate, Marketing & Communications  

March is Women’s History Month. This month highlights important women who have made significant contributions to events in history and contemporary society. The impact women have made cannot be discussed without mentioning the challenges faced in every aspect of life, including in the health care ecosystem.   

Women experience unique health care challenges and are more likely to be diagnosed with certain diseases. Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes—are the leading causes of death for women. According to the World Health Organization, 38 percent of women suffer from one or more chronic disease, compared to 35 percent of men. Patient advocacy organizations, with a specific interest in women’s health, work to educate, promote, advocate, and raise awareness for health issues that disproportionately impact women. During this month, the National Health Council (NHC) recognizes our members who focus specifically on promoting and advocating for women’s health. 

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease 

WomenHeart was founded in 1999 by three women, Nancy Loving, Jacking Markham, and Judy Mingram, who had heart attacks while in their 40s and faced many obstacles, including misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment, and social isolation. All three women shared a common experience about how little information or services were available for women with heart disease. To them, the issue seemed invisible within the women’s health care community. WomenHeart is the first – and still only – national patient-centered organization that would focus exclusively on women’s heart disease. Now, more than 20 years laterWomenHeart has successfully: 

  • Developed the only national network of patient support groups across the country – nearly 100 in more than 30 states. 
  • Trained more than 900 female heart disease survivors as community educators via the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium in collaboration with Mayo Clinic. 
  • Hosted bi-annual Advocacy Institute conferences to train women living with heart disease to be public policy advocates and form the basis of a grassroots policy movement. 
  • Created the Red Bag of Courage® program placing educational information about women and heart disease directly into the hands of hundreds of thousands of women living with or at-risk for heart disease. 
  • Held the first National Policy & Science Summit for women’s cardiovascular health. 

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association  

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association is a national patient advocacy organization that was founded in 1974 by Barbara Eck. After struggling with her own infertility, Eck decided to bring women who were facing infertility together to discuss their experiences. This began the first RESOLVE support group around her kitchen table, which continues today. RESOLVE provides free support groups in more than 200 communities; is the leading patient advocacy voice; and serves as the go-to organization for anyone challenged in their family building. Since its inception, RESOLVE has been dedicated to ensuring that all people challenged in their family building journey reach resolution through being empowered by knowledge, supported by community, united by advocacy, and inspired to act. RESOLVE exists to provide: 

  • Access to Care 
  • Advocacy for Coverage 
  • Access to Support & Community 
  • Access to Education 
  • Awareness of All Family Building Options 

The LAM Foundation  

Founded in 1995 as a grass roots effort, The LAM Foundation urgently seeks safe and effective treatments, and ultimately a cure, for lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) through advocacy and the funding of promising research. LAM is a rare and progressive lung disease that primarily affects women and has no known cure. The Foundation is dedicated to serving the scientific, medical, and patient communities by offering information, resources, and a worldwide network of hope and support. 

By providing support and education for women with LAM and their families, engaging doctors and scientists to continue to learn more about the disease, and raising funds for continued research, The LAM Foundation continues to advocate for patients. The LAM Foundation’s goals are focused on targeted scientific development to include the development of biomarkers to diagnose and predict disease progression, the identification of new drugs as possible treatments and driving the completion of all related clinical trials. Goals also include:  

  • Improve quality of patient care and support.  
  • Increase global outreach to patients and scientists.  
  • Increase fundraising to support the needs of promising research and an ultimate cure.