Representatives from seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities met on April 5-6 with CEO Roundtable on Cancer staff and partners SAS Analytics, Amgen, Merck, and Jasper Health to identify opportunities and areas of collaboration for our Going for Gold initiative to expand access to cancer detection, prevention, and treatment and to improve health in underserved communities.
“The collective think that came from this initial in person meeting was outstanding,” said Joya Delgado-Harris, Executive Director for the Gold Standard, including the Going4Gold initiative. “It was conveyed and understood that Going4Gold is a partnership and as such, we will work together to explore assets, capacity, influences on and around each campus so that strategies and initiatives can be built or enhanced, if already existing. We want to work smarter and learn from one another. Achieving Gold Standard accreditation will be a valuable tool to help each campus understand the best ways to implement G4G activities.”
The universities already have ramped up community health offerings during the pandemic with vaccine clinics and information sessions so there is an opportunity to build on that infrastructure. Other existing activities with potential for expansion included health fairs, walking clubs, mental health workshops, community gardens, smoke free environments, healthy food demonstrations and more.
Dr. Donald Alcendor, Associate Professor Microbiology and Immunology at Meharry Medical College, said the “Social determinants of health have changed since COVID. They have not gotten better, they have gotten worse. … We have to uproot misinformation in communities. … We have to think about new ways to attack a long-lasting problem.”
Corporate partners identified existing programs to consider expanding to support Going4Gold including SAS Analytics existing work with universities to equip them with data analytics software. There also are internships and fellowships offered by Amgen, Merck, and SAS.
Jasper Health is making available its Cancer Care Companion App to the universities to allow students and their families to connect with caregivers, providers, and health plan care teams.
There was consensus around the need for collaboration and innovation, not competition and duplication, to improve health and access to care for all communities.
Xavior Robinson, Director of Health Equity Partnerships and Operations at Merck, summed up that spirit. He said it’s not only important what the partners do together but how they do it. “A value of ours is co-creation,” he said emphasizing that does not mean extracting something to commercialize.
Schools attending the meeting were Dillard University, Livingstone College, Meharry Medical College, Southern University Law Center, Stillman College, North Carolina A&T State University, and Shaw University. Three schools -- Norfolk State University, Winston-Salem State University, and South Carolina State University -- were unable to attend.
For anyone interested in joining the partnership or learning more about it, reach out to Joya at firstname.lastname@example.org.