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Igniting the Cancer Community: CGH at MetaECHO 2019

, by Shadi Akhavan & Mishka Cira

The NCI Center for Global Health (NCI/CGH) piloted the use of Project ECHO as a way to extend the impact of its evidence dissemination and cancer control planning program. The CGH Project ECHO program convenes communities of practice in low- and middle-income countries with technical experts and researchers for knowledge exchange about best practices in cancer control research and planning and translation of evidence to inform policy. NCI/CGH ECHO programs include the Caribbean Cancer Control ECHO, the Africa Cancer Research and Control ECHO, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ECHO, and the Knowledge Summaries for Comprehensive Breast Cancer Control ECHO. NCI/CGH regularly evaluates programs like ECHO to measure impact and ensure we are meeting the goals of the program.

Ms. Roxanne Brew presenting the Caribbean Cancer Control Planning ECHO program at the Research Day Poster Session.

Participants in the NCI/CGH ECHO programs reported an increased level of knowledge, application of knowledge and tools, and partnerships to strengthen their cancer control efforts, as a result of their participation in the program.  Recently, NCI/CGH presented evaluation findings at the 2019 MetaECHO Conference, convened by the ECHO Institute at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

The pre-conference Evaluation & Research Symposium kicked off with a presentation on a report made to the U.S. Congress about the utilization and impact of ECHO and ECHO-like collaborative learning and capacity building models. Presenters highlighted that several U.S. government agencies support ECHO programs, including in global health, but there is a gap in the evidence to show ECHO’s impact in non-clinical settings. This set the stage well for the NCI/CGH evaluative research presentations.

Kalina Duncan and Mishka Cira presented in a research roundtable on innovative ways to measure impact of the ECHO programs. Roxanne Brew, Mishka Cira, and Shadi Akhavan presented the pre-post evaluation design method used to evaluate NCI/CGH’s ECHO programs to support evidence-based cancer control planning in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions during the research poster session.

Dr. Lisa Stevens during her plenary talk, “Igniting the Cancer Community”.

The NCI/CGH ECHO programs were well received by the conference attendees and organizers, several commenting that these programs will contribute to the needed body of evidence around the effectiveness of ECHO in the public health and global health policy arena. These discussions were further underscored by Dr. Lisa Steven’s plenary session alongside the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society which emphasized ECHO’s role and additional potential in strengthening domestic and global cancer research and control.

Dr. Stevens fired up the MetaECHO audience with her TED Talk-style plenary presentation Igniting the Cancer Community. She showcased the impact of ECHO as demonstrated through NCI/CGH’s regional ECHOs, she described how NCI/CGH pilot ECHOs inspired two of the regions to develop their own ECHO hubs to continue these communities of practice.

Throughout the conference, presenters shared unique and impactful uses of ECHO in areas including opioid use disorders, health delivery quality improvement, and global health security. NCI/CGH benefitted from the opportunity to share with the broader global health and research cohort within the ECHO community about outcomes of piloting ECHO as part of its evidence dissemination and cancer control planning activities. These outcomes, together with lessons learned from presenters on ensuring sustainability and utilizing ECHO as one part of a larger strategic initiative or program, will contribute to NCI/CGH’s utilization of ECHO where it contributes to efforts to support global cancer research and evidence dissemination.

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