Breast and cervical cancer are the leading causes of cancer death for women in low-resource settings. This has been attributed to lack of awareness, late stage diagnosis and access to care. WE CAN fosters awareness, capacity building, knowledge transfer and sharing of best practices in advocacy to dispel damaging myths about cancer and improve outcomes.
Our objective is to ensure progress towards reducing breast and cervical cancer-related death and morbidity, to promote capacity building, to influence public policy and social norm change, and to empower women to be leaders in their own communities. The 2014 WE CAN Summit in Tanzania aimed to:
· improve knowledge regarding cancer prevention, detection and treatment;
· advance cancer advocacy skills;
· facilitate the exchange of “lessons learned” in cancer advocacy; and
· develop the East Africa WE CAN network.
We hypothesize that the power of individual advocates is multiplied through regional networks. We conduct annual summits to connect advocates, physicians and policy makers to educate, raise awareness, exchange best practices, build capacity and strengthen regional advocacy networks.
We partner with local advocates, Ministries of Health (MOH) and healthcare providers to provide resource appropriate content, highlight advocacy efforts and develop advocacy goals through presentations, facilitated discussions and workshop sessions. The 2014 Summit was co-sponsored by WE CAN and the U.S. NCI with local hosts WAMA and MEWATA. WE CAN has been active since 2003, hosting 8 summits on 4 continents.
The 2014 Summit convened 65 survivors, advocates, medical professionals, and government representatives, from 10 countries. Outcomes include:
· creation of Malagasy Union Against Cancer
· linkages between VIA project and Tanzanian MOH
· increased integration of disenfranchised cervical cancer survivors
· decision to use WhatsApp platform for network communication
· 10+ advocacy action plans
· HIV/AIDS is preferable to cancer