“SUSTAINABLE PARTNERSHIPS:” 2013 Inter-Cultural Cancer (ICC) Hawai‘i-Pacific Regional Symposium Theme

The 2013 Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) Hawai‘i-Pacific Regional Symposium brought educators and practitioners from Hawai`i and the US Affiliated Pacific Island jurisdictions (USAPI) to the University of Hawai`i Cancer Center’s Sullivan Conference Center on March 15 and 16 2013. The theme was building “Sustainable Partnerships” to reduce cancer and the non-communicable (NCD) health disparities which exist among our minority populations. (Health disparities refer to the documented worse health conditions and outcomes, preventable premature deaths or shorter life expectancies that are faced by many members of minority populations. Research to better understand and reverse health disparities is a major focus of study among health scientists at the University of Hawai`i (UH) including the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), and the University of Hawai`i Cancer Center in partnership with some of the minority communities in Hawai‘i and the USAPI.)

“What made this gathering unique was the involvement of many bright and passionate young people, from students in high school to undergraduate and graduate students from Chaminade, Hawai‘i Pacific University and throughout the UH System,” said Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, Symposium Director.”  These students, who are pursuing degrees in various biomedical science or health care fields, represent the future providers, scientists, and community leaders who will help in the fight to eliminate health disparities.”

The theme, “Sustainable Partnerships” also refers to the ongoing working relationships the UH medical school, cancer center and the Hawai‘i Department of Health have with communities in Hawai`i and the Pacific Region to improve health, Buenconsejo-Lum said.

“An inspiring part of our symposium included the sharing of success stories, a tremendous opportunity for learning and moving forward together more effectively as current or future partners,”  said Buenconsejo-Lum. Cancer survivors also shared their perspectives as survivors, policy makers and partnership-builders between survivors and the various health systems.

Guest speakers

The slide show pictures are from the first day’s opening sessions, which included
guest speakers Hawai‘i State Senator Rosalyn Baker, Hawai‘i State Director of Health Loretta Fuddy and the Secretary of Health of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Hon. Dr. Vita Akapito Skilling. Panel discussions included information from Dr. Skilling about FSM’s efforts to address challenges connected to the obesity epidemic. Scientists from the JABSOM and the UH Cancer Center described efforts in translational research working with Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities in Hawai‘i and the USAPI. (Translational research seeks to transfer findings in basic research more quickly and efficiently into medical practice in order to promote meaningful health outcomes. In working with populations challenged with greater obstacles to optimal health, engaging these communities throughout the translational research process is mandatory.)

“True community engagement with partnerships across sectors and disciplines, advocacy and self-determination are critical to improving the health of our varied populations,” said Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, JABSOM Associate Professor and Residency Program Director for the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

Other Symposium speakers included experts in community-based or community-centered policy, system and environmental changes in Hawai‘i and the USAPI. The symposium agenda includes plenary sessions, “rapid fire” Town Hall discussions and breakout sessions featuring community-based success stories in policy change, prevention, cancer screening and cancer survivorship.