Federal project principal investigator Dr. Neal Palafox recently visited the Non-Communicable Disease Bureau of the Department of Public Health Services to look into its efforts as part of the Cancer of the Pacific islands Council, which includes the other U.S. Pacific jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau.
Palafox is a professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, and professor of Cancer Prevention and Control at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center. For the last 30 years, his work has been focused on reducing health disparities in the populations of Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific jurisdictions.
In his two-day visit last Aug. 13 to 14, Palafox met with Commonwealth Health Care Corp. leadership, the oncology team, NCDB, and other DPHS staff, and other CNMI health providers. He gave updates on the University of Hawaii’s Pacific Cancer Programs’ efforts in implementing the human papillomavirus self-test demonstration project in the Pacific region. The talks included the current Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation-funded cancer telehealth grant involving the CNMI.
Discussions to create partnerships to address the cancer burden locally and across the U.S. Pacific jurisdictions through federally funded programs were entertained with the DPHS director, DPHS medical director, and the NCDB.
The CHCC and NCDB aim to increase communication amongst all stakeholders, continuous and comprehensive communication is essential in implementing relevant and appropriate interventions and projects geared toward addressing the social determinants of health in the CNMI.
Palafox had the opportunity to meet with Commonwealth Health Center oncologist Dr. Peter Brett, Medical Affairs director Dr. John Tudela, Dr. Joel Smith, and DPHS medical director Phuong Luu regarding cancer care and accessibility to diagnostic and treatment services in the region.