Recently, my colleague Dr. Amanda Pullen and I were invited to participate in the Global Women’s Cancer Summit in Washington, DC sponsored by the Susan G. Komen International, a new and growing initiative of the Susan G. Komen Foundation Race for the Cure.
The conference brought together leaders in health and cancer care from around the world. Keyote speakers included Komen Founder, Nancy Brinker, former First Lady, Laura Bush, NBC Medical Editor, Nancy Snyderman, Susan G. Komen International head, British Robinson, as well as key leaders in cancer care from around the world.
The conference served to launch a new effort by the Komen Foundation, led by Komen International Vice President Ms. British Robinson, to extend its reach globally in its quest for the prevention, early diagnosis, and ultimately a cure for breast and cervical cancers which are increasingly impacting women in low and middle income countries around the world. Discussions included defining the scope of the problem world-wide, strategies that are currently working, new strategies needed, as well as challenges faced in implementing programs for screening, prevention and treatment in resource constrained communities.
This link http://vimeo.com/60564992 will take you to a panel discussion that I was privileged to lead focusing on multinational, national andlocal leadership and mobilization strategies currently employed, including those used in the quest to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in selected locations. The panelists included:
- The Honourable M. Perry Gomez, M.D. | Minister of Health of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
- Kennedy Lishimpi, M.D. | Executive Director, Cancer Diseases Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia
- Lisa Stevens, Ph.D. | Deputy Director for Planning and Operations, Center for Global Health, National Cancer Institute
- Julie Torode, Ph.D. | Deputy CEO and Director of Advocacy and Programmes, Union for International Cancer Control
The panelists addressed the following:
- In the panelists’ experience, what is the role for multinational organizations and NGO’s such as WHO, NCI, UICC, BHGI, IAEA, PACT, NCDA and others in framing policy as well as in developing and implementing guidelines and solutions in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC),
- Have they been maximally effective in their efforts?
- How do we better coordinate their efforts?
- What is the role of LMIC Governments?
- How have LMIC governments responded effectively?
- What policies are in place and what else is needed?
- How do we effectively implement policy at the country and community level?
- How do we ensure that policies and strategies can be practically implemented and effectively used?
- Are time-based goals practical and feasible in resource constrained environments?
- What financial resources are needed?
- Should BHGI guidelines be linked to financing?
- How do we make major public health advances such as HPV vaccine affordable in LMICs?
- Are there strategies for supporting procurement of vaccines, medication, equipment & materials?
- What sources of financing are available?
- What human resources are needed?
- What are strategies for training and supporting healthcare professionals and building local capacity? Are there examples of successful implementation of training programs and capacity building?
- What is the role of technology in addressing human resource gaps and in developing and implementing practical solutions?
- How do we best educate the public and what components of cancer prevention, public communication, screening, diagnosis and therapy can be centralized and/or accomplished remotely?
- What are examples of effective strategies for enhancing public awareness to encourage screening and early diagnosis?
- What are some real-world examples from our panelists?
The day was most fruitful for the exchange of knowledge, the awesomeness of the task at hand, the relating of some great success stories and the extraordinary and inspiring commitment of many individuals, institutions and governments in addressing this very important public health challenge.
According to the World Health Organization, of 57 million global deaths in 2008, 36 million, or 63%, were due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The four main NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases.
The burden of these diseases is rising disproportionately among lower income countries and populations. For example in 2008, nearly 80% of non-communicable disease deaths — 29 million — occurred in low- and middle-income countries with about 29% of deaths occurring before the age of 60 in these countries.
The leading causes of NCD deaths in 2008 were cardiovascular diseases (17 million deaths, or 48% of all NCD deaths), cancers (7.6 million, or 21% of all NCD deaths), and respiratory diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (4.2 million). Diabetes caused another 1.3 million deaths.
It is estimated that breast cancer will strike more than 1.3 million women annually over the next 20 years, killing 11 million of them, with most new cases coming in countries least prepared to deal with them. Cancer knowledge and medical resources vary significantly from country to country, particularly in the most resource constrained communities. Women in many of these countries still face stigma and shame when they are diagnosed and have nowhere to turn for treatment and support.
According to a study published recently in the Annals of Oncology, there were an estimated 530,000 cases of cervical cancer and 275,000 deaths from the disease world-wide in 2008. In spite of effective screening methods it remains the third most common female cancer ranking after breast (1.38 million cases) and colorectal cancer (0.57 million cases), however, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in Eastern, Western and Middle Africa; Central America; South-Central Asia and Melanesia. New methodologies of cervical cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment should be made available and accessible for women of all countries through well-organized programs. Recognizing the growing global impact of breast and cervical cancer, the shared challenges among countries worldwide, and the value of coordinated advocacy in the battle against these diseases, our expert panelists will be discussing ways to advance the common cause of breast and cervical cancer prevention, screening, early detection and management in low and middle income countries of the world.
Once again, the experience of partaking in an event that brings together key thought leaders to explore innovation and best practices in research, science and program implementation of global breast cancer care, treatment and prevention is truly inspiring. Our thanks to the leaders of the Susan G Komen Foundation for their vision, industry and commitment to extending their mission world-wide.
Robert K. Crone, MD
President & CEO
Strategy Implemented, Inc.