PUERTO RICO: A MODEL OF COLLABORATIVE AND PARCIPATIVE APPROACH
During the past few years, Puerto Rico has taken bold action to address cancer, which is the second cause of mortality in the Island, through the adoption and implementation of a Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan 2008-2012. Based on a participative approach, the joint efforts of the Cancer Control Coalition constitute one of the key factors behind the success of the Puerto Rico Cancer Control Plan and its new iteration for 2015-2020. This case study provides insights on the role of collaborative and participative approaches in contributing to the success of cancer control strategies.
THE PUERTO RICO CANCER CONTROL COALITION
In 2008, a group of individuals and public and private organizations active in the field of cancer prevention and control, as well as representatives of the Puerto Rican community joined forces within the Puerto Rico Cancer Coalition with a common goal: reduce the morbidity and mortality associated to cancer in the Island.
The Coalition works in close collaboration with the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, which is funded by the CDC National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (NCCCP). The Puerto Rico Central Cancer Registry, which provides high quality data, is also an essential part of this collaboration in guiding planning and implementation efforts.
The Coalition is the custodian of the Plan and is responsible for ensuring that best efforts are deployed to achieve its targets. It is also responsible for revisions of the Plan the latest of which occurred with the adoption of the second iteration of the Plan for 2015-2020.
HOW THE COALITION CONTRIBUTES: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
The Coalition is composed of 25 organizations, with the leadership of a Board of Directors, representing all stakeholders as well as ensuring the participation of the community. There is a strong commitment of the membership, including through participation in working groups that aim to foster action for the main NCCCP priorities: breast cancer, HPV and cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, nutrition and physical activity, survivorship and quality of life.
The Coalition has faced some challenges common to participative approaches. One of the challenges faced during the revision of the Plan was the unequal knowledge of coalition members as to revision processes and how to develop goals and objectives. To overcome this challenge, the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program provided training to the Coalition members about those issues. Another challenge was the consistency of members’ efforts within the Coalition. Actions to overcome this specific challenge include the development of different levels of participation in the Coalition, more concrete and attainable goals and objectives, clear roles and policy guidelines, informal relationships and communication channels and the overall flexibility in working with the Coalition.
NEXT STEP: TOWARDS THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW NCCCP 2015-2020
To ensure that cancer control actions best respond to the needs of the population, it is crucial that the Puerto Rico Cancer Plan is revised regularly in light of new cancer data to take stock of scientific advances and new cancer control strategies. The Coalition collaborated with the evaluation team in assessing the success of the first iteration of the Puerto Rico Cancer Control Plan and defined the new priorities of the Cancer Control Plan 2015-2020, selected in light of the high quality data from the cancer registry and coordinated with other public health plans, such as the Puerto Rico Chronic Disease Action Plan 2014-2020 and Puerto Rico Healthy People 2020.
The updated and revised PR CCC PLAN is a document that emerged from the experience and assessment from the Puerto Rico Cancer Plan 2008-2012 and the current PR cancer trends. The document is the product of the extensive collaboration of the contributing partners for approximately two years and includes additional priorities such as prostate cancer, sun safety and an evaluation component.
The Cancer Plan includes: primary through tertiary prevention strategies that includes policy, system and environmental change (PSE) approaches, and enforcement of the existing policies in the island for physical activity, nutrition, among others. Health disparities in Puerto Rico; is also addressed in the revised document.
The PR CCC Plan 2015-2020 is more dynamic, user friendly, web based, easy to read access and use by individuals and organizations in all areas of cancer prevention and control to guide their efforts to reduce the incidence and mortality of the people that live in Puerto Rico
Website of the Puerto Rico Cancer Control Coalition: www.coalicioncontroldecancer.com
Website of the Puerto Rico Central Cancer Registry: http://www.rcpr.org/
Ley de Política Pública del Gobierno de Puerto Rico para el Control Comprensivo de Cancer en Puerto Rico –Ley Núm. 49 de 8 de Abril de 2011
Link to the CDC NCCCP: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/ncccp/
Facebook - Control de Cáncer PR: https://www.facebook.com/controldecancerpr