Louisiana is Making History with Women's Health
For two years, the Campaign to Establish Louisiana Office on Women’s Health advocated for the creation of a Louisiana Office on Women’s Health. In June 2022, the Legislation to create this office passed and subsequently Governor John Bel Edwards signed the bill creating Act 676. The creation of the first Louisiana Office on Women’s Health and Community Health is history in itself as Louisiana is among only a few states in the United States with such an office. The "purpose of this office is to improve women's health outcomes through policy, education, evidence-based practices, programs, and services” by functioning as “a clearinghouse, coordinating agency, and resource center for women's health data and strategies, services, programs, and initiatives that address women's health-related concerns,” according to Act 676.
Not only is the office making history itself, but the first Assistant Secretary, Dr. Torrie T. Harris, is also making history. Dr. Harris has a plethora of qualifications and experience in leading, teaching, and advocating. She received her undergraduate degree from Xavier University of Louisiana, where she later returned to teach as an adjunct professor in their Master of Public Health in Health Equity program. In addition, she has received a Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health Community Health Sciences from Tulane University. While earning her MPH, she interned with the Louisiana Department of Health and worked on their Partners for Healthy Babies project. She continued her education at University of Kentucky, where she earned a Public Health doctorate, specializing in Health Behavior and Health Systems Management. Her doctoral studies focused on public health disparities in minority adolescent youth.
This historical moment is timely, as Louisiana’s health ranking for women and children is 50th. This newly established office and highly qualified Assistant Secretary are just what Louisiana needs to lead the state's efforts to improve women's health outcomes, a key strategy for improving our overall health ranking to 40th by the year 2030.