The U.S. is a major contributor to international development assistance.1 Its policies drive global health initiatives in countries receiving funding. Given limited resources to address the global cancer burden, advocates must identify opportunities to leverage existing funds and platforms.
LIVESTRONG Foundation lobbied Congress members and government staff to develop legislation or operational guidance enabling greater flexibility of existing U.S. global health investments. By linking current global health priorities to cancer, more interventions could be put in place to tackle emerging NCDs.
LIVESTRONG was one of fewer than 20 organizations invited to deliver testimony to members of Congress regarding the allocation of FY15 global health funds. We stressed U.S. investments should address the current global disease burden, and offered examples of linkages between cancer and communicable-disease priorities with substantial budgets. Later, we sponsored a delegation of congressional staff to travel and observe programs in sub-Saharan Africa that demonstrate the connection between cancer and other global health priorities. Finally, we pushed for new legislation of the U.S. PEPFAR program to include language linking HIV/AIDS and cancer.
It was important to identify components of global health legislation or funding that could be related to cancer control, and moments in the congressional calendar when those would be debated. An ongoing contentious political context in the U.S. altered our standard advocacy process and timeline. Updates to PEPFAR legislation were particularly cumbersome due to conservative interpretations and stakeholders. Lobbying activities required a high degree of flexibility, ingenuity, and clandestine efforts to be successful.
Outcomes/What was learned:
A multi-pronged strategy was required to challenge the status quo, and field-based case studies were essential. We were successful in fostering unlikely champions to highlight best practices and updating PEPFAR legislation to include cancer. Our approach is applicable to advocacy in both donor and recipient countries.