SAN ANTONIO – Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc., has announced its support of a new American Cancer Society campaign called "Cancer Prevention: It's worth a shot."
The private, faith-based not-for-profit said it will donate $500,000 to the American Cancer Society for a comprehensive, two-year cancer-prevention initiative focused on increasing vaccinations against human papillomavirus, or HPV, among medically underserved children in South Texas served by local and regional Federally Qualified Health Centers, or FQHC, and to support a community-based HPV vaccination-education campaign for parents and families.
"At our clinics, we often see patients that are beyond the prevention stage of treatment," said Kevin C. Moriarty, president and CEO of Methodist Healthcare Ministries. "To be a part of such a pivotal campaign, a campaign using proven results, and knowing that through the campaign’s partnerships low-income families will have access to the vaccine, is especially meaningful to us at Methodist Healthcare Ministries."
The American Cancer Society will partner with three FQHCs -- Amistad Community Health Center, Atascosa Health Center and CentroMed -- all of which Methodist Healthcare Ministries said it has had a long-standing relationship.
The HPV vaccine has been proven safe and effective in the prevention of infection as well as cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers, Methodist Healthcare Ministries said. The HPV vaccination rate goal of national health promotion and disease prevention initiative Healthy People 2020 aims for vaccine coverage for boys and girls ages 13-15 to be 80 percent, receiving at least three doses of the HPV vaccine.
The vaccine rates in San Antonio for girls ages 13 to 17 was 32.8 percent, and 19.9 percent for boys ages 13 to 17, per the 2015 National Immunization Survey.
Methodist Healthcare Ministries said although preventive care such as vaccinations is covered by Medicaid and many private insurance plans, thousands of children go without vaccinations that could protect them.
"The American Cancer Society has made HPV vaccinations a top mission priority," said Suncerria Tillis, senior director of primary care systems at the American Cancer Society. "Vaccinating children gives health care providers and parents the powerful opportunity to prevent HPV-related cancers in the future. The FQHCs we work with will be instrumental in this effort, as well."
Based on an assessment of current practice, the American Cancer Society will work with each FQHC to build a customized program that will include provider education, patient outreach, education and follow-up, as well as other quality-improvement efforts, Methodist Healthcare Ministries said.
Each FQHC partner will receive capacity building funding to support their comprehensive program. Methodist Healthcare Ministries said the project aims to employ approaches to increase provider recommendation and vaccination coverage levels that will be sustained beyond the funding period.