The program at our Zoom Meeting this past week was Dan Witzling, National Managing Director, Diversity Equity Inclusion Programs for American Cancer Society who also served for more than nine years as senior executive director in the Los Angeles County area. He leads efforts to advance the organization’s mission and health equity impact in partnerships throughout the country.
Dan shared the guiding principles of the American Cancer Society Health Equit program. It was eye opening to hear about the efforts to provide Cancer health equity to our communities. He walked us through statistics around the cancer health equity issues in America and focused more specifically on Santa Monica and our immediate area.
He explained that People, Place and Partnerships must continue to be the major focus to insure that “Everyone has an opportunity to be as healthy as possible.”
People – The focus must include helping people with the greatest need. Embrace diversity and inclusion and collaborate with community members.
Place – Implement sustainable community solutions while addressing structural and social determinants of health. Understand communities’ historical, social, cultural, and economic context.
Partnerships – Leverage the power of volunteers. Partners with different sectors to prevent and address unintended consequences.
Dan also pointed out things that drives health through the cancer lens: Health Systems and
Services, employment, food security and access to healthy foods, physical and social environments, education, transportation, and housing.
As to research, he informed us that in 2022, $48M was awarded locally to 20 researchers in Los Angeles County. While 60,000 Californians will die from cancer this year 189,000 Californians will receive a new cancer diagnosis. He points out that risk factors are often compounded by socioeconomic factors. “Too often, where you live or who you are determines if you get cancer, if you survive, and the quality of your life. Inadequate access to care remains the greatest barrier to receiving proven, high-quality care.”
A final staggering statistic Dan shared is that “Black Women are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women overall and are twice as likely to die if they are over 50.”
Sobering, but Pam Brady, VP of Programs for our Club this year, has brought us another very informative program. Please share the information with family and friends.