Churches needed to raise awareness of breast cancer prevention
Gainesville Sun, February 2, 2012
With a goal to reduce the number of African American women getting breast cancer, WellFlorida is looking to partner with African-American churches to educate parishioners about breast cancer prevention.
Kim Gokhale, associate planner of Community Initiatives for WellFlorida, said African American women are disproportionately affected by breast cancer and their cancer is more aggressive than in white women.
WellFlorida was formerly known as the North Central Florida Health Planning Council.
Gokhale said WellFlorida is reaching out to churches to participate in “Believe! Breast Cancer Prevention through Churches,” a new program that aims to reduce the numbers of African American women impacted by breast cancer.
The program is supported through a grant from the Florida Division of the American Cancer Society to address cancer disparities.
Gokhale said the purpose of the program is to reduce the incidence of breast cancer in African American women by working with churches to raise awareness of breast cancer prevention education and the importance of self-exams and mammograms. She said the model of working through churches in order to bring awareness to health and other important issues has been tested and proven to be effective.
“When the church gets involved, there is a positive outcome,” said Gokhale.
This is how the partnership would work: Churches would nominate someone to act as a community educator who would provide breast cancer prevention education to the parishioners by holding workshops and also establishing an informational booth where parishioners can access breast cancer prevention information and resources. WellFlorida would train the community educator and provide information and tools needed. The community educator would not need to have medical training.
Gokhale said WellFlorida is looking to recruit 18 churches with the greatest chance to impact the most people.
“We want to empower the people and provide the tools,” said Gokhale, adding that the grant is for 6 to 8 months, but the goal is that participating churches would continue to provide breast cancer prevention education after the grant has ended.
“The goal is that the structure will be already in place so they (churches) can continue to provide the service,” Gokhale said.
Gokhale said partnering with churches is a good fit and a wholistic approach.
“The community draws strength from churches,” said Gokhale, “and physical health is a component of spiritual health.”
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