5TH WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT CANCER ADVOCACY NETWORK (WE CAN) SUMMIT 2018
23rd – 24th March 2018
The Zambian Cancer Society (ZCS) hosted in collaboration with other partners the 5th edition of the annual Women’s Empowerment Cancer Advocacy Network (WE CAN) Summit. The 2-day event held from the 23rd-24th of March 2018 and focused on breast and cervical cancer advocacy in Africa. The event had participants from all over Africa in attendance and for the first time West Africa was represented. Attendees included Cancer survivors, advocates, medical professionals and experts in cancer care. During the summit, attendees, shared stories, opinions, expertise, thoughts and suggestions to guide development of country/organisation specific action plans to help improve the cancer outcomes especially for breast and cervical cancer.
The Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) was invited and enjoyed the support of the Ondo State Government towards attending. BRECAN was represented at the Summit by six delegates headed by the founder, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu. She was accompanied by Dr. Oluwatoyin Ayimoro, Dr. Ndidi Aisha Okunnuga, Dr. Teniola Akeredolu, Mrs. Lilian Adesokan and Mrs. Funmilayo Oluwagbamila.
The opening remark was delivered by Udie Soko; the Executive director of Zambian Cancer Society and the welcome address by Dr. Mutinta Mudenda; the Deputy Director, National Malaria Elimination Centre, representing the First lady of Zambia. There was a keynote address on The Global Cancer Agenda and History of WE CAN by Dr. Julie Gralow; Founder, WE CAN. This was followed by a very captivating monologue on the story of Udie Soko; Executive Director, Zambian Cancer Society.
The rest of the morning comprised of two panel discussions:
Panel 1: Resource Appropriate Strategies
- Scaling up cervical cancer control in Zambia: Enhancing the role of civil society
- To Screen of not to screen; The difference between breast and cervical cancer
- Pathology: Addressing the challenges and building capacity in LMICs
- Resource stratified guidelines for cancer treatment in Africa
Panel 2: Improving the Cancer Care Experience
- A holistic approach to cancer care
- Shared decision making in cancer care: the power of collaboration
- Building capacity through training oncology nurses
Key points noted:
- Emphasis was laid on the importance of cancer prevention especially in the case of cervical cancer and early detection not undermining the fact that treatment and follow up is also important.
- Screening does not prevent cancer but it can improve impact and outcomes
- There is no prevention for breast cancer.
- Accurate diagnosis is required for treatment. A well thought out Diagnosis workflow is needed for efficient management.
- The cheapest and easiest way to do a biopsy is FNAC. However, the best type of biopsy is a Core needle biopsy, but it is expensive, and physicians need adequate training. In developing countries scalpel biopsies are still done which is more expensive as patient need to be anesthetized compared to investing in core needle biopsies.
- Across Africa there is still a lack in path lab services. Tele pathology could be a solution; converting the slides/specimen to Electronic format that can be uploaded into a cloud and can be read by any pathologist across the world.
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCP) harmonised guidelines for SSA was developed. The activity involved 12 countries including Nigeria.
- Survivors also need care: consider acute follow up care, community care, back to work plan, access to secondary care, psychosexual, family/social support, health care professional education.
- Challenges in shared decision making include limited patient engagement due to poor health literacy levels, poverty and lack of options; role of spouse/family/community and lack of data o decision making and treatment guidelines.
Small Group discussions: Participants were presented with the opportunity to participate in three from a number of available sessions to discuss and develop recommendations.
- Early diagnosis
- Supportive and palliative care
- Patient navigation
Participants were given time to discuss related barriers/challenges and reach a consensus on two recommendations to be presented. At the end of the session, the recommendations developed during the sessions were presented to those in attendance.
Patient Support and Wellness after Treatment: Team Survivor NW: Session was led by the founder of Team Survivor; Dr. Julie Gralow alongside some Team survivor member. They all shared their experiences. The predominant thing was comradery. Support and seeing others go through similar experiences and surviving inspired others to live and not give up.
Interactive Panel: Unanswered Questions in Breast and Cervical Cancer: This was an open discussion on treatment, research, advocacy, myths and more. The panel included Dr. Julie Gralow (Breast Medical Oncologist), Grosbeck Parham (Prof of OBGYN), Rodwell Vongo (Traditional Healer in Zambia) and Jane Brock( Breast Pathologist).
Key points noted:
- Collaboration in key in cancer treatment. All stakeholder should have a seat at the table when decisions are made in cancer care
Networking Reception: The ZCS presented their new project; Audio on Caregiver stories in both English and their indigenous language. This was well received, and the team’s work appreciated.
The day started with an engagement Workhop.
There was a presentation by the policy activity incentive award recipients. Several organisations were awarded a seed fund of $1,000 for an initiative/activity to impact policy change in cancer care in their communities. The recipient countries included Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Rwanda. For most, this opportunity was a stepping stone to greater things as this gave them confidence to apply for more grants to help improve the situation in their country.
Several participants were given the opportunity to deliver a 5-minute highlight of their work. Amongst them was Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, the First Lady of Ondo State and Founder, Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN). She highlighted her crowdfunding initiative and impact of advocacy on policy change in Ondo State in Nigeria.
The afternoon was quite interactive. Case study was presented. Advocates were tasked to work in groups to answer questions and the discuss in a group.
With all the information gained during the summit, advocates came up with action plans and presented to the group
The formal meeting ended with post workshop evaluations and presentation of certificates
There was a gala night to end the workshop
ACTION PLAN FOR BRECAN
- Pilot a patient navigation system in Ondo state.
- Advocacy to rural villages liaising with the village heads, their wives and religious groups on breast cancer awareness and crowd funding.
- Forming a survivor group platform.
- Encouraging youths and young adults to help in creating awareness on breast and cervical cancer.
- Help propagate health policies to improve quality of life of people having cancer.
- Capacity building of health workers in Ondo State.
- Meeting with stakeholders;
- Nigerian Medical Association
- Laboratory Scientists
- Medical Women Association Of Nigeria
- Community Health Workers
- Joint Health Workers
- Advocate for the creation of a “patient navigator”/patient navigation desk to cover all public health facilities
- Improve Survivors lifestyle.
- Advocate for Survivors support from the government through empowerment programmes.
- Educate Survivors on sustainable lifestyle to prolong their Survivorship.
- Put up a Survivors documentary to help fighters hope of Surviving the disease.
- Organise picnics and get together for Survivors and their families in pink month yearly.
- Put up different write up in form of flyers and hand bills to encourage and support survivors’ psychology and emotion.
- BRECAN wants to collaborate and help in health promotion, Community education, Capacity building and access to appropriate health services
- To achieve the above;
- Re-orientation of health care providers and services towards Breast and Cervical Cancer.
- Creating a supportive environment for Cancer patients.
- Reduce and improve health inequalities
- Help in making cancer treatment affordable and accessible to all.