NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
March 30, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 13 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Guest Commentary by Lynn Swan

Trans-HHS Cancer Health Disparities Progress Review Group Announces Action Plan

The Trans-HHS Cancer Health Disparities Progress Review Group (PRG) recently announced its 14-point priority action plan for combating the mounting disparities in the delivery of cancer prevention and treatment in the United States. The announcement was made at the March 25 town hall meeting of the Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC). In their report, the PRG panel calls on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement overarching planning and coordination actions and to focus research discovery, program development, and service delivery activities on developing and applying evidence-based approaches tested at the community level. Their recommendations call for HHS to establish a Federal Leadership Council to mobilize resources across the federal government, form partnerships for "community-based networks for participatory research," and designate high disparity geographic areas as "Communities Empowered to Eliminate Disparities."

With the help of NCI and its director, Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, working with a Federal Steering Committee comprising representatives from agencies across HHS, this PRG was appointed last summer by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and includes prominent scientific, medical, public health, and advocacy community members.

"While this progress review group focuses on cancer, it could lead to a process that will help us eliminate not only cancer disparities but all health disparities," Dr. von Eschenbach stated. "These efforts are a critical part of our mission both at NCI and across the department." NCI has regularly used the PRG approach to identify gaps in knowledge about specific cancers and groups of cancers, including lung, breast, prostate, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers, brain tumors, and leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.

The ICC also announced a 12-step action plan at their symposium last week that lists the full implementation and funding of the Trans-HHS Cancer Health Disparities PRGs recommendations as its number one priority.

"Clearly, enough information now exists to address this problem head on - through policies that will provide ethnic minorities and the medically underserved with greater access to services and programs that are designed to prevent, detect, and treat cancer at its earliest stages while supporting these individuals through and beyond treatment," said ICC Chair Alexine Clement Jackson.