iStock_000001296369LargeRSThe Arizona Tribal Cancer Collaborative Conference will celebrate its tenth year in November of 2016! The conference has been held annually for ten years, but the active collaborations and learning about one another truly began two years prior to the first conference. CDC provided Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona tribes receiving Cancer Prevention and Control funding with technical support and guidance as we began our collaborations.

Prior to the conference, technical assistance advisers met with ADHS staff and partners to discuss tribal collaborations, learn about Arizona’s tribes, and create an action plan supporting collaborations. ADHS held two days of training for staff, contractors, and partners on best practice in working with tribal partners. These events were standing room only.

The Tohono O’odham Nation, Navajo Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program, and Hopi Cancer Support services partnered with ADHS to plan and implement the first Tribal Collaborative Conference.  Significant planning and discussion occurred in advance to determine the roles and guidelines for the conference. One of the guidelines that remain in place today is that the tribal partners approve those invited to the invitation-only conference.

Today, the invitation list has expanded to include some incredible partners to the group, including the Gila River Indian Community and Apache Tribal Health Care. Additional tribes are being invited to join the collaborative in year ten.

The conference topics have several pathways: sharing best practice, updates regarding changes in health care systems or tribal administration, systems change, population health, and clinical education regarding cancer. It is an intense two and a half day conference. Due to the strength of focus required for the conference, exercise breaks are built into the agenda. This allows everyone to engage in some physical activity and strengthens the existing collaborations.