“Think Global, Act Local”: Komen activity at the American Public Health Association conference

Guest post by Jeremy Patch, Community Health Analyst; Lauren Groves, Manager, Community Grants; and Kylie Davidson, Community Health Specialist.

One of the most gratifying aspects of our work on Komen’s Mission Team is seeing how our grant-funded programs are benefitting the people who need us the most. We’re known as an organization that funds more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit (second only to the federal government). But we’ve always believed that we have to be of service to people in our neighborhoods who need help – especially the uninsured, low-income or medically underserved people who often face breast cancer without insurance, money, knowledge, community support or some combination of all three. From our very first days three decades ago, we’ve made it a point to engage and support our communities.

That’s why we were delighted to be invited to present our work at last week’s 141st annual American Public Health Association (APHA) conference in Boston. It was quite an event, with more than 13,000 public health professionals and students all engaged in bringing meaningful public health programs to their communities. We were there to present our partnership with the Mexican consulate to provide culturally relevant breast health education to Mexican women living in the United States.

Breast cancer in the Latina community is a real problem, with Latinas facing cultural and socioeconomic barriers that often bring them to treatment when their cancers are fairly far advanced and harder to treat. In 2012, Komen worked with the Mexican consulate to add targeted breast health information and outreach to their already existing program called “Ventanilla de Salud” (VDS) or “Window of Health”.

Our community health manager, Tennille Howard, presented results from four pilot sites – Dallas, Little Rock, San Antonio, and San Diego – where community health agencies are working with the local Mexican consulates and the local Komen Affiliates to educate the community of Mexicans living in the U.S. and break down barriers to care. Through this targeted breast health outreach, our grant funds have been able to provide 1,588 referrals to Mexican women for mammograms, 73 for diagnostic services, 6 for treatment services, as well as psychosocial support for 97 Mexican women. In addition, these pilot sites have demonstrated that the VDS program is an excellent way to reach many people from a broad geographic area that are part of a vulnerable population. The next phase of this program is to release a comprehensive, dual-language (English and Spanish) breast health and breast cancer education toolkit for Latinas in 2014.

Our outreach in the Hispanic/Latino community extends to our international programs in Central and South America for many years as we work to raise awareness, educate women and medical providers, promote screening and early detection, and more through the support of the Caterpillar Foundation. We are also engaged in studies with the National Cancer Institute to help pinpoint genetic issues unique to Hispanics/Latinas. We also support many other programs across the country which address the needs of Hispanic women, made possible by our nationwide network of Affiliates.

The theme of this year’s APHA conference was “Think Global, Act Local” and we were excited by the opportunity to be engaged with and learn from others in the public health arena last week. Our goal is to ensure that our community grants and programs are making the biggest impact for people facing breast cancer. Our time at the conference has further energized us in the work we do, and we will continue to “Act Local”, both in the United States and globally.


About the author

Susan G. Komen has written 342 articles for Susan G. Komen® | Blog

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.