An alarming 70 percent of the 6 million cancer deaths worldwide occur in developing countries. When U.S.-based corporations with major overseas interests tapped the American Cancer Society (ACS) to help fight cancer among their worldwide employees, ACS turned to EDC for assistance. The two organizations joined forces, combining ACS’s expertise in cancer prevention with EDC’s health promotion and adult learning skills, to help employees manage or prevent cancer, as well as other chronic or terminal illnesses.
In August 2008, EDC brought together about 30 chief medical officers and human resource administrators from several large international companies, including Caterpillar and Astra Zeneca, for a three-day workshop on workplace wellness. Participants shared information on how they addressed prevention and early detection of cancer and other health issues at their international job sites. Additionally, EDC developed resources for workshop participants.
“The August meeting represented the beginning of a long-term engagement of ACS’s work with international corporations,” says EDC’s Scott Pulizzi.
Wellness in the workplace
Among the resources EDC presented at the workshop were training materials to assist employees with tobacco cessation and nutrition counseling. In many cases, materials were customized for employees in specific countries, for example, India, China, or Mexico.
The materials also featured ways to improve workplace practices and policies on such issues as tobacco use on company grounds or campuses. Health promotion recommendations included prompts for employees to use workplace stairs as opposed to elevators. Additionally, participating companies were encouraged to consider services such as on-site cancer screenings and health fairs.
The program is also helping corporations advocate for places to allow employees to be physically active. “The employers are not just promoting health in their workplace. They are also working with partners to improve the health of the broader environment. They are supporting healthy behaviors in their employees and other community members, all to increase consistency between the workplace, home, and community life,” explains Pulizzi.
Since 2001, EDC has developed training materials for ACS University, which supports cancer control efforts of nongovernmental organizations in developing countries. The materials focus on cancer prevention, detection outreach, and end-of-life care programs.
Originally published on January 21, 2009