Sunday, September 30, 2007

Global Advocacy - Four perspectives

Diana Rowden - Dallas TX, USA

This morning's presentations by Ranjit Kaur of Malaysia, Rama Sivaram of India, Riccardo Masetti, M.D., of Italy, and Mary Onyango from Kenya provided the full spectrum of our approach to advocacy. We began with Ranjit's definition of advocacy and the reason why so many of us become advocates--because we see inadequacy, inequity, and injustice. And our need to break away from what many accept as normalcy in substandard care to create a new normalcy.

Rama next explained that once we become energized as advocates we are ready to educate our communities. Before education can began, we must overcome barriers including awareness, affordability, accessibility and availability, lack of advocacy and ethos. She reminded all of us that cancer is not about dying, but rather fighting and surviving.

My friend Riccardo emphasized the increasing incidence of breast cancer throughout the world--by 2020, 70% of all breast cancer cases will occur in developing countries. It is essential that we enlist all primary care providers--physicians, nurses and social workers--to inform women that breast cancer is curable if detected early.

And Mary cited the need for a global fund for breast cancer given the numerous challenges faced by many nations, including the insufficient political priority and funding amongst donor agencies and governments. There is a need to obtain better incidence and mortality data to energize the global push to make cancer part of national agendas throughout the world.