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Public Consultation on Northern BC Cancer Care to Involve UNBC President

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November 2, 2005

Source: University of Northern British Columbia:

Public Consultation on Northern BC Cancer Care to Involve UNBC President

In an announcement made in Prince George on April 14, 2005, Premier Campbell commissioned Dr. Charles Jago, President of the University of Northern BC, and Jeff Burghardt, Chair of Northern Health, "to lead a comprehensive consultation process on access to cancer care in the north". The accompanying press release stated that the purpose of the consultation is to seek public input on a range of cancer treatment options in northern British Columbia "such as radiotherapy, as well as early diagnosis and screening and any preferences and concerns around travel to access cancer services, and the relationship between these issues and cancer outcomes".

As a sequel to the joint report published by Northern Health and the BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) in March, entitled Northern Cancer Control Strategy, NH is preparing a Progress Report on the development of a northern cancer control and treatment strategy for release in December, 2005. The report will be based on a great deal of research and investigation that has taken place since the release of the March report, including visits to radiation cancer clinics in small urban centres, including Kelowna, Thunder Bay, and Saskatoon. The research is by no means limited to the specific topic of radiation therapy, but rather looks to the complete treatment method of diagnosed cancers. Additionally there is further work on the preventative side of cancer and the type of lifestyle improvements that can potentially be introduced to northerners as part of a comprehensive strategy. The Progress Report will provide Northern Health an opportunity to report out to the public on the opportunities for cancer program development over the next few years and the intended direction.

Following the release of the Progress Report, Jeff Burghardt and Charles Jago intend to conduct a series of consultations throughout the north, both through open sessions and through by-invitation focus groups, to ensure public participation in the development of the northern cancer control and treatment strategies. The Consultation will allow an opportunity to see if that direction proposed by NH in the Progress Report is consistent with public concerns and desires and whether these concerns are consistent across the Region. A primary focus of the Consultation will be on the key issue of access and the need to hear views from across the Region on how the public's concerns for access to cancer care services can best be met. Consultations are expected to begin in January, 2006 with a view to having a draft report by May and a final report by the end of June. This report will be submitted first to NH and BCCA for review and comment and then to the Premier and the Minister of Health for consideration and action.

In his April announcement, the Premier also identified $1M that "will go towards a research program at UNBC, which will inform the northern cancer strategy" and will involve "a partnership with Northern Health, the BC Cancer Agency and others in the community". Together UNBC and Northern Health are developing a charter for collaborative research activity with advice from the BCCA and have agreed to a plan use the funding to help create a centre of expertise at UNBC. The centre will have the capacity to assist NH and the BCCA in the further development of a northern cancer control strategy as well as to contribute to broader provincial and national strategies to improve cancer prevention, detection and treatment in rural and northern regions. At UNBC, the centre will complement the work of three existing UNBC research centres: the Rural & Remote Health Research Institute which is supported by the Provincial Ministry of Health, the Rural & Remote Health Research Network which is funded by the Michael Smith Foundation, and the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Rob van Adrichem, Director of Media and Public Relations, UNBC - 250.960.5622



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