Senator Anthony Hill Sr. announced Florida A&M along with the University of Florida Prostate Disease Center, the Central Florida Pharmacy Council and 100 Black Men of Northwest Florida Panhandle will establish the Florida Alliance for the elimination of cancer disparities in black men.
“The main goal of this alliance is to improve black men’s health, increase their life expectancy and enhance their quality of life by promoting good health and reducing the disproportionate burden of cancer morbidity and mortality experienced by black men,” said Folakemi Odedina, professor and director of research at FAMU School of Allied Health.
The alliance was established based on Hill’s continuous effort in closing the gap relative to the disproportionate burden of prostate cancer among black men, the ground-breaking research of the Florida Prostate Cancer Disparity Research Group comprised of FAMU scientists and the clinical and basic research of the University of Florida prostate Disease Center, an academic Center of Excellence dedicated solely to prostate cancer.
“This goal will be achieved through research, community engagement and outreach and policy changes in the State of Florida,” Odedina said.
With life expectancy less than 70 years, the health of black men is compromised by heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes and HIV/AIDS, according to www.cancer.org.
FAMU President James Ammons said statistics show black people are more than likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.
“Prostate cancer incidences for African-American men are significantly higher when compared to white males,” Ammons said. “It is important that FAMU plays a part in this effort to increase the awareness about the impact that cancer is having among men in the African-American community.”
According to www.cancer.org, blacks have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers. In 2005, the death rate for all cancers combined remained 33 percent higher in black men than in white men. Certain barriers such as the lack of health care perceived by black men continue to affect their effective utilization of primary health care and services for health promotion and disease prevention.
Members of the black community need to partner with scientific researchers through Community Based Participatory Research to overcome, understand and address these barriers to health care services.
“We are in dialogue with the Florida Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, other black community based organizations, cancer associations and cancer centers in Florida to effectively address prostate cancer disparities statewide,” Odedina said. “The alliance plans to work very closely with the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida to guide the public policy development for the Florida Alliance.”
The key advantage to this alliance is the partnership among several community organizations and academic institutions. The alliance is meant to empower black community based organizations, faith-based organizations and black businesses across the state of Florida for community education and outreach to black men on prostate cancer.