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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 13, 2001

Hawai'i 'best' on women's health

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Health Writer

The good news: Hawai'i is leading the nation in improving women's health. The bad news: No state is doing enough. That's according to a national report released this week that calls women "second-class citizens" in health care.

For the second year, Hawai'i ranked No. 1 in the study by the National Women's Law Center, Oregon Health and Science University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Hawai'i leads the nation in life expectancy, mental health, available health care and abortion facilities, and lowest breast-cancer death rate.

But it still received an "unsatisfactory" grade, as did all other states and the District of Columbia. Louisiana was the only state to fail.

"If we're No. 1, I'd hate to see No. 20 or No. 50 because the truth of the matter is I sometimes think we're swimming upstream," said Dr. Fredric K. Pashkow, medical director of the Queen's Heart Institute. While Hawai'i is doing much that is proactive, it still has its battles to fight with obesity and youth anti-smoking campaigns, Pashkow said.

Michelle Rudoy, who heads up Kapi'olani Women's Center, agrees Hawai'i has made great strides. Far more women are getting mammograms, she said, to find cancers at an earlier, more treatable, stage. Still, only 55 percent of women get mammograms when they should.

The state Commission on the Status of Women also notes weaknesses in services to rural areas and to minority ethnic groups.

The report ranked Hawai'i second highest in the men-versus-women wage gap, third in the percentage of smokers and seventh for diabetes. Hawai'i was in the middle of the nation in lack of leisure time and physical activity, eating fruits and vegetables and poverty.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.