About the Workgroup

The goal of the Health Equity Workgroup is to reduce and eliminate cancer disparities in South Carolina by identifying and addressing the needs of priority populations to achieve health equity.

Equity and equality in cancer care are important issues. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines cancer health disparities as “differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of cancer and related adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States.”Individuals of all ethnic backgrounds who are poor, lack health insurance, or have inadequate access to quality cancer screening and treatment experience more cancer diagnoses and death, as well as unfavorable survival rates.

These disparities in healthcare continue in the United States, even in an equal access system like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where many barriers in healthcare have been addressed. Differences are shown to exist in disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality. In South Carolina, if you are Black, you are twice as likely to have diabetes compared to White individuals, and you are almost one and one-half times more likely to die from diabetes than a White individual of similar age. This provides a dramatic example of health disparities related to race, though there are many other contributors to health inequity that we seek to understand and eliminate. For example, socioeconomic status, education, language, race, ethnicity, and disability can be barriers to accessing quality health care.