Our story begins on the continuum of a widespread, pressing movement that has involved local, state and national footprints to address tobacco and cancer health disparities. We know through research and study that if critical health issues are addressed appropriately, leading causes of preventable deaths and illness will greatly reduce. The key; however, is addressing the health issues across miles and miles of dynamic and diverse populations. We have long known that the distribution of disease and illness is closely linked to geography.
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) and the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC) collaborated to support a consortium of national networks to advance commercial tobacco use prevention and cancer prevention in populations experiencing tobacco-related and cancer health disparities. The Alliance is one of seven national networks funded by the CDC to address geographic health disparities.
The Alliance defines geographic health disparities as the differences in health behaviors and health outcomes related to where people live. One’s address shouldn’t be indicative of one’s health status, access to health or diagnostic outcome. Geographic disparities in health have been noted down through history; indeed “place” was long considered more a determinant of health than vectors or micro-organisms. Geography is often thought of as a practice to interpret maps that describe the physical world. But, geography is far more than that, however the physical description of boundaries has a great deal to do with how we view communities and how we construct society.