CGH Spotlight Blog
This blog features content and images to showcase the great work from the Center for Global Health.
Breast and cervical cancers are two leading causes of death among women worldwide. Countries in the northern Andean region face the highest mortality and incidence ratio for these cancers in Latin America. Poor outcomes in low- and middle-income countries have been attributed to a lack of awareness on the benefits of early detection and treatment, late stage detection, and limited access to cancer-related treatment.
In early spring the Center for Global Health saw the opportunity to better support Peru’s efforts in bringing attention to the role of education and advocacy in breast and cervical cancer prevention and control. Through partnerships with the Peruvian Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) regional office, the first Women’s Cancer Summit was held in Lima, Peru. This unique training workshop brought primary-level health care providers from 26 districts together with patient advocates and survivors from Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador.
Indonesia boasts some of the highest smoking rates in the world. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), conducted in 2011 by the Indonesian National Institute of Health Research and Development and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, showed that more than 67% of men and almost 40% of boys aged 13-15 use tobacco.
The numbers are staggering. If left unchecked, tobacco-related illness will wreak havoc on Indonesia's health system. In 2014, the Government of Indonesia implemented universal health care that will provide unprecedented levels of health coverage to the Indonesian population.. If tobacco use rates continue at current levels, chronic diseases such as cancer will economically burden this system in yet untold ways.
Mexico’s National Cancer Institute, Instituto Nacional de Cancerología (INCan), has been designated by its Secretaría de Salud (Secretary of Health) as the leading entity to coordinate the development and implementation of its first National Cancer Control Plan (NCCP). The National Cancer Institute and the Center for Global Health have had a long-standing and successful partnership with INCan, and at their request are identifying new or enhanced ways to provide technical support by way of resources, training, and collaborative programs to facilitate the implementation of the NCCP.
Mexican authorities recognize the need for strengthening their current health policies and integrating research to enhance cancer control efforts across the country. In addition, an emphasis has been placed on building capacity among healthcare professionals within the cancer community to better address the cancer burden in Mexico. To this end, cancer control and research experts from the National Cancer Institute, Center for Global Health; Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences; and Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention are meeting with representatives from Secretaría de Salud, INCan, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (National Institute of Public Health), Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán (National Institute of Nutrition), and Instituto de Medicina Genómica (Institute of Genomic Medicine) in Mexico this week to discuss expanding existing and exploring new collaborations. Areas of interest include cancer control and epidemiology, tobacco control research, cancer research and education training, border health, joint research activities, and scientific journalism training.
Shady Grove celebrated Take Your Child To Work Day (TYCTWD) this year with a variety of activities and sessions aimed at inspiring school-aged children to explore career paths in science and public service. CGH took this opportunity to host its inaugural Take Your Child To Work Day session, An Introduction to Global Health. The session was overwhelmingly well received by kids and parents alike, as our theme prompted them to think about the importance of nutrition, healthy living, and science not only in their own lives, but in the lives of everyone around the world.
The 45-minute session, bringing together fifteen students ranging from 1st to 7th grade, began with a presentation by Dr. Lisa Stevens (Deputy Director Planning and Operations) and Cathy Muha (Branch Chief for Planning, Evaluation and Operations) highlighting the missions of the NIH, NCI, and CGH. The presentation concluded with CGH facilitators, Balkissa Abdoulaye; Elyse Gillen; Tom Gross; Catherine Hidalgo; Sudha Sivaram; and Hillary Topazian, each sharing with the group what they enjoyed most about working at CGH.
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The NCI Center for Global Health hosted its first session at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) last week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional association related to cancer research, and its annual meeting is a veritable who’s who of cancer experts, industry leaders, and policy professionals. This year’s annual meeting included approximately 750 sessions and attracted 20,000 participants, fully overwhelming the Pennsylvania Convention Center in the ‘City of Brotherly Love’.
The NIH has recently awarded its first round of grants in a parallel U.S.-South Africa funding opportunity. Scientific cooperation between the U.S. and the Republic of South Africa was initiated in 1995, and has grown rapidly in recent years. Recognizing that enhanced cooperative biomedical research would be of mutual benefit to the U.S. and South Africa, the NIH Director and President of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January, 2013 to develop a new U.S.-South Africa Program for Collaborative Biomedical Research. A working group, made up of members from both NIH and SAMRC developed strategic plans for collaboration, each allocating resources to support joint activities pursued under this program.
Initiatives funded through this program will advance biomedical research for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in not only the US and South Africa, but will contribute to the global wealth of knowledge of these diseases. Moreover, the scope of this initiative includes HIV/AIDS co-morbidities, and resulting malignancies. This opportunity was further targeted at expanding basic, translational, behavioral and applied research that will stimulate scientific discovery, and engage U.S. and South African researcher collaboration.
Cancer specific targets for this initiative include the following:
At its core, cancer research is about improving and saving lives of those afflicted by cancer. The Max Foundation, led by CEO and co-founder Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, has been widely credited with helping to save the lives of thousands of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) worldwide by helping patients access the cancer drug imatinib. Pat’s work to bring the fruits of cancer research to patients in low- and middle-income countries inspired the creation of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Global Cancer Medicine Humanitarian Award; and she the award’s first honoree.
Pat Garcia-Gonzalez started the Max Foundation as a tribute to her step-son, Max, who was diagnosed with CML in 1988 at the age of 14 and passed away in 1991. Thirteen years following Max’s diagnosis, imatinib was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat CML patients. Pat saw imatinib’s enormous potential to allow many patients to live a normal lifestyle, but recognized that the drug’s high cost meant that many patients in low- and middle-income countries would have no access to this life-saving treatment. Despite tremendous hurdles, Pat and her team at the Max Foundation worked with the pharmaceutical company, Novartis, to establish a mechanism to provide imatinib to patients in low-resource settings.
Last Wednesday I was able to attend and support the National Cancer Institute’s 3rd Symposium on Global Cancer Research; a satellite meeting to the 6th Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Conference in Boston. Partnering with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and CUGH, the Symposium featured speakers from various cancer disciplines including Dr. Larry Shulman (Dana-Farber), Dr. Sudha Sivaram (CGH), and Dr. Clement Adebamowo (University of Maryland). The Symposium centered on the theme of implementation science, a field which studies the integration of research findings and evidence into healthcare policy and practice. Attendees from universities, hospitals, government, and research institutions discussed the importance of assessments, site commitment, and data-set availability to prove the safety and effectiveness of cancer care delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
A personal highlight was the interactive sessions; an opportunity for participant groups to tackle hypothetical implementation science situations encountered in LMICs with regard to pathology, cervical cancer, radiation, and pediatric oncology—challenges similar to those we undertake daily at CGH. I was able to brainstorm alongside researchers with backgrounds working in Haiti, Botswana, and Rwanda to identify the barriers to implementation in our assigned country and determine how funds could be effectively used to combat these deficiencies in both the short-term and long-term. One of our recommendations was to establish supply chain interventions, to ensure the availability of pathology materials. Another encouraged support staff training for slide preparation, allowing the limited number of pathologists in the country free to spend their time diagnosing tissue.
Health officials in India recently announced that the country of 1.25 billion is establishing a national cancer institute, which will be modeled after the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI). A delegation of leading health officials from the Government of India visited the U.S. in March to discuss plans for the new establishment in India and to learn more about NCI’s intramural research and clinical care operations.
The visit by the Indian delegation follows on the heels of increased high-level discussions between Indian and U.S. officials on greater collaboration between the two countries. The discussions included a visit to the U.S. last year by Indian Prime Minister Modi to meet with President Obama, and a reciprocal visit by President Obama to India earlier this year.
I believe in partnerships; people helping people to attain shared goals and better health. That’s what attracts me to global health and, specifically, cancer control and prevention. What can we do together to prevent and control this disease that devastates individuals, families, and communities?
CGH staff work every day to answer this question. Through programs, collaborations, and opportunities, CGH strives to unite the cancer community to advance international efforts in cancer control and prevention. Today I’m excited to announce a new funding opportunity available from CGH for cancer prevention and control (CPC) researchers at NCI-designated cancer centers: Administrative Supplements to Promote Cancer Prevention and Control Research in Low and Middle Income Countries.