There is a disproportionate cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality among minorities and persons of low socio-economic status in the United States and its associated tribal nations, territories and Pacific Island jurisdictions. Health disparities suffered by these groups have been documented through published reports. There is a critical need to develop knowledge and strategies to address this crisis with the leadership and full participation of the affected communities.
In 1987, the first Biennial Symposium on Minorities & Cancer was held in Houston, Texas to coincide with the launching of the National Minority Cancer Awareness Week. The Biennial Symposium is the first of its kind in terms of involving ALL Americans in attempting to bring attention to this American problem. In 1995, with the launching of the Intercultural Cancer Council, the Symposium Series moved to Washington, D.C. and was renamed the Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved & Cancer, in recognition that cancer was a national issue that needed to be on the American health agenda. The Symposia have brought together leaders from numerous disciplines to find new and innovative ideas to address this health crisis in America. These meetings have brought together Americans from different racial/ethnic groups, including poor and rural Americans, as well as different professions and points of view, to come up with workable solutions. The Symposium has been the hallmark and one of the strengths of the Intercultural Cancer Council, the nation's largest multicultural health policy group. The Honorary Chairs of this Symposium are Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Chair of the Komen for the Cure Board; Dr. Charles A. LeMaistre, former President of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Ms. Betty Lee Hawks, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, US DHHS; and Ms. Pamela Jackson, Executive Director of the ICC and the niece of the late Dorothy I. Height.
In 2003, the Disparities in Health in America: Working Toward Social Justice Annual Summer Workshop was launched by the Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH) in Houston, Texas. This educational workshop convened nationally and internationally recognized experts from diverse disciplines to present and discuss the latest methods and strategies in addressing health disparities. These presentations covered broad areas such as biological and cultural factors, health disparities and media, and human genomics and social determinants of health.
Theme and Aims
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Biennial Symposium and the 10th annual Health Disparities Summer Workshop, both events took place side-by-side in Houston and hosted by the Dorothy I. Height Center for Health Equity & Evaluation Research (DH-CHEER, formerly CRMH, a joint venture of the University of Houston and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) and the Intercultural Cancer Council.
This landmark event, "Empowering Communities in the Era of Health Care Reform," the 25th Anniversary was formulated to reach a varied audience of academicians, health care professionals, students and community members, and be the platform for addressing the catalysts of change needed to effectively meet the health needs of people of color in general and underserved people in particular. The curriculum educated participants about the social factors that are fundamental in creating health disparities. The event also focused on formulating public policy objectives to reduce and eliminate health disparities in America. Since cancer is only one of many health disparities faced by minority and underserved individuals, the 2012 meeting did not limit its discussion to cancer issues.
Both the conference and educational workshop were designed to share best practices, challenge the status quo and advocate for needed improvements in the health system.
The 12th Biennial Symposium and the 10th Summer Workshop aim were to:
- Effectively communicate best or emerging practices which build community capacity to
- advocate for needed programs and policies to improve access to cancer and chronic disease preventive, screening and treatment services and
- build and maintain effective partnerships to prevent and control chronic disease in disparity populations
- Empower participants by providing information and skills training necessary for successful community
The Biennial Symposium Series has and continues to be the hallmark of the Intercultural Cancer Council. Because of the economic state of the United States and the cost of host such a large conference, the ICC has held regional meeting since the 2012 Meeting. We see this as the best option for continuing the efforts of the ICC.