Jefferson County is one of 30 areas across the country to be included in $25,000 grants from the Walmart Foundation to support existing community health adviser (CHA) programs for cancer screening and healthy living.

Jefferson County is one of 30 areas across the country to be included in $25,000 grants from the Walmart Foundation to support existing community health adviser (CHA) programs for cancer screening and healthy living.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than half of cancer deaths could be prevented if more emphasis were placed on early detection and healthier lifestyles, including maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, avoiding tobacco and getting recommended cancer screening tests.

“We are grateful to the Walmart Foundation for its support of the Society, and for this commitment of additional resources to help us deliver on our life-saving mission in Jefferson County,” said Lakecia Vincent, local CHA staff representative for the Society. “The Walmart Foundation’s community-based investment will help us make a positive impact here by providing resources and information to help people stay well.”

According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts and Figures, disparities predominantly arise from inequities in work, wealth, income, education, housing and overall standard of living, as well as social barriers to high-quality cancer prevention, early detection and treatment services.

Additionally, persons with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to engage in behaviors that increase cancer risk such as tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor diet due to environmental or community barriers to opportunities for physical activity and access to fruits and vegetables.

The Society, with funding from the Walmart Foundation, has launched the CHA program in Pine Bluff. CHA staff and volunteers train local women and men who then seek to improve the health of people in their communities. The ultimate goal is to have these groups, who are traditionally in underserved communities, to participate in appropriate screenings available to them for breast and colon cancers. Advisers will also focus on good nutrition and reducing obesity.

The local CHA program will work throughout Jefferson County, where communities may have lower than average cancer screening rates and higher than average percent of families in poverty. CHAs in each area will educate people on the ways to prevent cancer, and also point them toward ways to getting screened. CHAs will also teach the community about how the American Cancer Society can help families affected by cancer.

The American Cancer Society has implemented programs across the country to help reduce cancer disparities, including community-based initiatives such as the Patient Navigator Program, which helps patients and families through the complex medical system. Since 1999, the Society has funded 117 studies totaling $99 million devoted to the poor and medically underserved, and the Society’s intramural research department focuses resources on community-based interventions and disparities research.

To help cut down on cancer incidence rates, the American Cancer Society uses the CHA program among others to specifically reach the populations most at risk for cancer. The program exists in Mobile, AL; Pine Bluff, AR; eastern Kentucky; central Louisiana; New Orleans, LA; Jackson, MS; and Memphis, TN.

For more information on this program or any of the other programs of the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-227-2345 anytime or visit cancer.org.