Special event focuses on abundant life through faith, health & community

By Elizabeth Fernandez on September 02, 2009
What UCSF is sponsoring a one-day symposium to support African American faith-based organizations in promoting good health through health ministries.

This special event, for church representatives from around the Bay Area, is designed to foster the development and growth of health ministries and to showcase the importance of faith organizations as crucial partners in promoting health.

“Our goal is to share cancer education programs with the community that we know can make a difference in people’s lives,’’ said Marcus L. Penn, MD, coordinator of outreach, Department of Radiation Oncology, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We want to address the health inequities that so disproportionately affect African Americans."

The symposium is organized by the Faith Communities Committee, a coalition of African American religious organizations and voluntary associations that is part of the Community Advisory Board of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. When September 12, 2009 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where San Francisco Christian Center; 5845 Mission Street, San Francisco Registration For more information on the program and registration fees contact Marcus Penn, MD, at 415-514-3690 or lorenzopenn@yahoo.com or Wilma Batiste at 415-246-7906 or batiste916@cs.com Background While cancer deaths have declined for both whites and blacks in the U.S., African Americans continue to suffer the greatest burden for each of the most common types of cancer – breast, colorectal, prostate and lung, according to the National Cancer Institute. White women have the highest incidence rate for breast cancer, but black women are more likely to die from the disease. Black men have the highest incidence for prostate cancer in the country and are more than twice as likely as white men to die of the disease.

The Cancer Center’s Abundant Life Health Ministries Initiative was created in response to the high rates of chronic disease in African American communities. In addition to the symposium, the initiative includes mini-grant awards to churches, training on development and maintenance of health ministries and educational programs, and ongoing technical assistance.

“It is exciting when an academic research center commits itself so fully to the betterment of the community," said Rena J. Pasic, DrPH, associate director, Community Education and Outreach, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The Abundant Life Health Ministries Initiative purposefully focuses not on delivering health education via the church through ad hoc programs, but on enhancing the capacity of churches to themselves promote the health of their congregants and the broader community. I believe strongly that, with our faith community partners, we will make a difference in the health of Bay Area African Americans."

The event, the second annual such gathering, will promote research-tested education programs, including “Body and Soul,’’ a National Cancer Institute initiative that encourages a healthy diet and lifestyle through pastoral leadership, church activities, changes in church policies regarding food, and peer counseling. Media Contact Elizabeth Fernandez at 415-476-2557 or efernandez@pubaff.ucsf.edu About UCSF UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.