Neal A. Palafox, M.D., M.P.H.
Neal A. Palafox, MD, MPH was born and raised in Hawaii and is a graduate of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii. He completed his residency in Family Medicine at UCLA and obtained a Masters in Public Health with an emphasis on International Health from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He went to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) in 1983 as a National Health Service Corps physician, was a co-founder of a program caring for the radiation affected people of the Marshall Islands in 1985 and became the Medical Director for Preventive Health Services and Public Health in the RMI from 1987-1992. Having lived and worked in the RMI for 9 ½ years, he became a staunch advocate for eliminating health disparities in the RMI and U.S. Affiliated Pacific Island (USAPI) jurisdictions. He has actively worked with the RMI government to attempt to gain appropriate reparations for the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing Program (USNWTP) that occurred in the RMI in the 1950s. Dr. Palafox was integrally involved in writing the health portion of the 2005 Changed Circumstance Petition to Congress and continues to participate in negotiations between the RMI and the United States government. He has been advocating for collaborative Cancer Control efforts for the USAPI region since the mid 1990s.
Dr. Palafox is currently Professor and Chair of the University of Hawaii Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. He has authored over 50 papers or documents concerning Pacific health and has spoken at numerous national and international cancer and/or health disparities forums. He has been a member of the Intercultural Cancer Council since 1999 and presently leads the Pacific Islands Regional network of the ICC. Dr. Palafox is the Principal Investigator for several major health initiatives in the USAPI. These projects are:
- A Congressionally-mandated program to provide medical care for Marshall Islanders who were exposed to fallout from the US nuclear weapons testing program in the 1950’s. (1998-present)
- The NCI-funded Pacific Cancer Initiative (2002-2007)
- The HRSA-funded Pacific Association for Clinical Training (2003-2007)
- The CDC-funded Comprehensive Cancer Control planning grant (2004-2007)
- The CDC-funded Pacific Regional Central Cancer Registry (2007-2012)
- The CDC-funded Pacific Regional Comprehensive Cancer Control implementation program (2007-2012)
- The CDC-funded Pacific Center of Excellence in Eliminating Disparities (CEED) in breast and cervical cancer for USAPI populations residing in the Pacific and the US. (2007-2012)
Dr. Palafox’s advocacy and leadership, along with the efforts of the Cancer Council of the Pacific Islands and PIHOA has helped leverage almost $20 million dollars cumulatively between 2002-2012 for cancer control in the USAPI.
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