GAINING GROUND IN THE FIGHT TO REDUCE CANCER IN PACIFIC ISLANDERS
Date: November 19, 2007
Two men discussing events in Yap, Hawai'i/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center Photo
New funding agreements will increase the capacity of health services to fight cancer in the US Associated Pacific Island Nations (USAPIN) , specifically Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Micronesians in Hawai’i.
The Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) at John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa has been awarded two Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Grants to address the rising cancer burdens.
One grant establishes the CDC Pacific Center of Excellence in Eliminating Disparities (CEED). The second, the Pacific Regional Central Cancer Registry, funds the development of a novel web-based Pacific Cancer registry.
“2007 is a milestone year in the fight to reduce Pacific Islander health disparities,” says Dr. Neal Palafox, Principal Investigator of the Pacific CEED and Cancer Registry projects and Chairperson of the medical school’s Department of Family Medicine. “This level of funding and commitment by the CDC demonstrates that Pacific Islander health issues are now widely recognized and supported at the highest levels.”
Cancer is a leading cause of death and disability in the USAPIN, in part due to the increasing burden of smoking, obesity, alcohol, Hepatitis B, betel nut chewing, and the effects of the US nuclear testing program in the Marshall Islands. The health systems in these areas often lack resources for robust cancer prevention, screening, diagnostic and treatment services.
The Pacific CEED is possible through a 5-year, multi-million dollar grant by the CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program.
The Pacific CEED aims to improve health for citizens of the USAPIN, including those now living in Hawai’i and the continental U.S.
A special emphasis will be on breast and cervical cancer and their related risk factors.
The grant builds on DFMCH-JABSOM efforts since 2002 to develop community-based coalitions and comprehensive cancer control plans in the affected regions.
The USAPIN Regional Central Cancer Registry, the first of its kind, has been possible through partnerships of Department of Family Medicine with the Cancer Council of the of the Pacific Islands, the Pacific Islands Health Officers Association, Departments of Health of the USAPIN jurisdictions, Cancer Research Center of Hawai’i – Hawai’i Tumor Registry and Cancer Information Service – Pacific Region, and the University of Guam Cancer Research Center/Guam Cancer Registry.
The Pacific CEED also includes the Department of Public Health Sciences at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Cancer Information Service (CIS) – Pacific Region, a program of the University of Hawai’i Cancer Research Center of Hawai’i. This collaboration allows the resources of the National Cancer Institute, through the CIS-Pacific, to be shared in the region.
The projects, funded cumulatively at more than $1.5 million per year, are aimed at strengthening community partnerships with the health sectors, training the workforce, and improving the health care systems. They highlight the mission and involvement of the UH-JABSOM in working to address the disparate health care services and health care needs of the Pacific.
For more information about the Pacific Regional Comprehensive Cancer Control program, the Pacific Regional Central Cancer Registry or the Pacific CEED, please contact Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum at the JABSOM Department of Family Medicine, (808) 627-3234.