Doctors, nurses, researchers and survivors are gathering in Ames today for a regional meeting of the Iowa Cancer Consortium.

Levi Lappin, a coalition spokesman, says one focus of the conference is to discuss the newly-released Iowa Cancer Plan, a health blueprint for the next five years.

“It essentially guides comprehensive cancer control work in the state,” Lappin says, “and by comprehensive, I mean across the continuum, from prevention like nutrition and physical activity through screening, treatment and quality of life, for survivors or palliative care, hospice.” Lappin says the consortium is a partnership of more than 400 health care providers, public health professionals, caregivers, researchers, cancer survivors and others who work together to reduce the burden of cancer in Iowa.

One priority of the meeting is to provide what’s being described as “health equity.” Lappin says, “As demographics change in the country and specifically in Iowa, there’s a need to help other groups, people of color, LGBTQ folks, to be the healthiest that they can be.” With Iowa being a rural state, he says access to health care can be a burden on many families and individuals.

Representatives from Iowa Safe Routes to School will be making a presentation at today’s meeting in Ames. “That would be more nutrition and physical activity, the prevention side of things,” Lappin says, “getting these kids walking to school, biking to school, giving them safe routes to school — that way they can do that — which then sows the seeds of a healthy lifestyle at a young age.”

The consortium is hosting three meetings across the state this spring. The first was in Council Bluffs earlier this month and the last will be next Tuesday in Dubuque.