News & Press

It Takes a Village – the Surgeon General’s Call to Action

Your voice is needed now more than ever before.

On July 29 the Acting Surgeon General of the United States issued a Call to Action on Skin Cancer Prevention. This 100+ page report was years in the making and reflects input from many different organizations: labor unions tied to outdoor workers, school groups, local and state Comprehensive Cancer Control programs, various non-profits and patient advocacy groups—among many others. After multiple rounds of feedback and comments, the Call to Action was finalized and released with great fanfare.
 
The document is worth reading; it provides important insights into what can be done to lower the rates of melanoma. The message I want to convey, though, is the importance of many voices working together to implement change. Collaboration and advocacy are critically important. Persistence over time—even years—is key. Where one voice, one person cannot usher in change of this nature, many voices and many people can accomplish great things.
 
This principle is evident in the second “win” for the melanoma community—the passage of the Sunscreen Innovation Act (SIA), which requires the FDA to review sunscreen ingredients in a timely fashion. Sunscreens in other developed countries have used ingredients for years that are not available in the United States simply because the FDA has not reviewed the application for these ingredients. Some of these applications have languished for over a decade. As a result, every broad spectrum sunscreen in the U.S. depends on one of only two agents to block skin-damaging UVA. In other countries, consumers have a choice of as many as seven different UVA filters, some of which block a more comprehensive range of UV radiation. 
 
The SIA is the result of the work the PASS Coalition, a group which includes companies who make sunscreen ingredients, companies that make cosmetics, and non-profit groups like the MRF. The Coalition was able to get this Act passed in a year when Congress will pass fewer bills than any other time in modern history. This, again, is a clear indication of the power of many voices working together.
 
We still have a lot of work to do, particularly around the Call to Action. The Call to Action is worthless unless people act. We can all make sure that happens. The bottom line is: your voice is needed now more than ever before. If you want to get more involved in bringing about change, let us know. I promise you this—together we can absolutely change the world.
 
Written by the MRF’s Executive Director, Tim Turnham