By Monique Jones
For the Birmingham Times
The partnership between the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network Inc. (NAATPN) and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center involves more than just curbing tobacco use. Over the past four years, their collaboration has helped raise awareness and provide information about cancer education—specifically colorectal and cervical cancer—and cancer screenings.
Funding from the NAATPN helped create the UAB center’s Deep South Network for Cancer Control, which sends volunteer community health advisers directly into African-American communities in the Black Belt and Mississippi Delta regions.
NAATPN is backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
“We support [and] fund smaller organizations across the country,” said Michael Scott, NAATPN Network Coordinator. “We’re a nationwide organization funded by the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and the [Division of Cancer Prevention and Control]. We have seven subcontractors that work specifically in African American communities around tobacco use prevention, cancer prevention and HIV/AIDS prevention.
“Community health advisers attend meetings and training sessions, then they go out into their communities—whether it’s their church homes, their housing communities, or their social groups—and promote cancer prevention [and] screening for different types of cancers,” said Scott, adding that the funding helped provide training to University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)’s advisers.
Working in medically underserved communities has always been a priority of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, said Claudia Hardy, program director for community-based minority health programs at the center.
“We use our cancer center infrastructure and the health advisers we have in place to further the mission of NAAPTN, reaching African-Americans and talking to them about healthy lifestyles, which [includes] tobacco control, healthy eating, physical activity,” said Hardy, who is also program director for the Deep South Network, which ensures that poor, minority communities have access to cancer screening and treatment.
With the NAATPN’s support, “we’ve seen an increase in our ability to reach more people and increase their knowledge,” said Hardy. “… They’ve provided us a small amount … to be able to expand our scope and breadth, and to be able to offer more community education sessions and capacity building for our volunteer community health advisers.”