Alarming statistics support the need for greater awareness and preventive cancer screenings for prostate cancer:
For African American men, prostate cancer is a vastly more serious problem. How serious? While 28.8 percent of white men diagnosed with the disease will die from prostate cancer, for African American men the death rate jumps to 70.4 percent.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) Foundation awarded a $92,000 grant to Michigan’s Department of Community Health to supplement the Prostate Cancer Research Fund, which was established to promote research on prostate health throughout Michigan.
The Prostate Cancer Research Fund was created by state Sen. Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit) and raised $52,000 via state tax check off contributions. The Michigan State Department of Community Health and the BCBSM Foundation jointly issued a Request for Proposals on prostate cancer treatment and prevention.
The Michigan Blues joined hands with “100 Black Men of Greater Detroit” and a host of other sponsors to support the Man Up! Walk the Walk for Healthy Families to encourage people to take personal responsibility for their health. BCBSM also is joining hands with “100 Black Men” to encouraged men, particularly African American men, in southeast Michigan, to get tested for prostate cancer to help reduce the death rate caused by the disease.
We are committed to reducing health disparities in traditionally underserved communities across the state. To that end, BCBSM is developing strategic relationships and partnerships in African American communities to affect the health decisions people make. Reducing health disparities among the poor and among minority populations requires more than providing access to health care services.
These efforts also require awareness and education. They require community mobilization and community organizing. They require partnerships among insurers, philanthropic organizations, state government, and grass roots community groups. Foundations are in an ideal position to help support, mobilize, and bring about necessary change.
Ira Strumwasser is executive director & CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation