Abstract oral session 2014 World Cancer Congress

Making Radiotherapy a Global Health Priority Through Social Media Mobilization: The Case of GlobalRT (#314)

Shekinah N Elmore 1 , Roshan V Sethi 1 , Onyi Balogun 2 , Daniel Seible 1 , Rachel McDonald 3 , Mei Ling Yap 4 , Danielle Rodin 5 6
  1. Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States
  2. New York University, New York, NY, United States
  3. University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  4. Liverpool Hospital, New South Wales, Australia
  5. Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  6. Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, United States

Background and Context: Despite unprecedented success in the global cancer equity movement, some aspects of cancer treatment have lagged behind. In particular, the availability of radiotherapy remains stagnant. Often considered technical and costly, radiotherapy, or cancer treatment using radiation, is a critical element of care. Without access to radiotherapy, many patients cannot be cured, while others will have reduced survival.

Aim: GlobalRT seeks to turn radiotherapy into a global health priority. As an initiative of the Young Leaders Program of the Global Taskforce on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control (GTFRCC) under the UICC, it aims to provide a virtual platform for education, exchange, and action around the essential nature of radiotherapy for cancer care.

Strategy/Tactics: GlobalRT website and social media platforms feature the human side of radiation care using stories from patients and health care providers. These make the case for access to radiotherapy as a human right. Additionally, partnerships with organizations working in global radiotherapy, cancer care, and technology innovation were sought to implement specific projects, including a challenge for proposals to reduce the cost of radiotherapy.

Programme/Policy Process: Beta-launch at ESTRO, full launch at ASCO. Presentations scheduled at ASTRO. Movie filmed in Peru with NCD Free. Linkages created with young leaders in over 10 countries. Young leaders ranged from young physicians to undergraduate students to global health practitioners. Education and advocacy programs planned at medical schools across the US, with global expansion to follow.

Outcomes/What was learned: More than 100 individuals signed up since site launch. Peru film screened at WHO meeting. Five institutional partners signed on to specific projects. Preliminary efforts demonstrate effectiveness of a web-based, social network approach to engaging young leaders in the burgeoning movement for global access to radiotherapy. Further assessment is required to optimize the balance between online and offline activities and networks.