The American Cancer Society was recently granted special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Being granted consultative status opens the door for the Society to actively engage with the ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the United Nations (UN) Secretariat, programs, funds, and agencies. In addition, the Society will have UN ground passes, and be able to attend UN Commission meetings and table 500-word statements at those meetings. Receiving consultative status at this time is especially important as the first-ever UN Summit on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD) will take place in September 2011. Such a high-level event should be a catalyst for major change at a global level for all people living with cancer and other NCDs.
Participants in the cancer training in Washington, DC
Twenty-six scholars from 13 cancer nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Latin America gathered for advocacy training July 12-16 in Washington, DC. This weeklong event was the fourth and final training part of the Latin America Regional Health Grants Program, a four-year American Cancer Society program aimed at strengthening organizations and empowering cancer patients in Latin America that was made possible by a generous educational grant from the Pfizer Foundation. The sessions covered such subjects as selecting advocacy issues, setting advocacy objectives, political mapping, and global advocacy. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN), the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, hosted the Latin American scholars and provided them a unique opportunity to learn about and experience the advocacy process from our nation’s capital. The speakers included Dr. Elmer Huerta, a past president of the American Cancer Society; Society regional consultants; and from ACS CAN – Molly Daniels, Bob Chapman, Joe Franco, and Mona Shah. Carrie Konosky from the Kidney Cancer Association, Jorge Puente and Gerard Hagn from Pfizer, and Robert Raben from The Raben Group, also delivered powerful speeches. Throughout the training, the scholars also had an opportunity to make presentations about the early detection projects they planned and implemented as part of the program. Finally, the scholars went to Capitol Hill and met with Daniel E. Smith, former president of ACS CAN and current staff director of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). He offered an insider’s perspective on the role cancer NGOs can play vis-à-vis their governments.
On June 30, the American Cancer Society launched the first session of a three-part ‘Multi-sector Working Forum on Noncommunicable Disease in Africa,’ in collaboration with The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in Washington, DC. The American Cancer Society, as a leader in the global cancer control movement, developed this forum with CCA as part of preparations for the United Nations (UN) special summit on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), planned for September 2011, which will address the growing global burden of cancer and other NCDs. In advance of that high-level meeting, government, civil society, and other stakeholders have called for interventions that demonstrate the need for and success of programs worldwide that address NCDs. The American Cancer Society’s first session of the Forum included a series of discussions on cancer and other NCD priorities, ranging from prevention and research to early detection and patient support. The primary objective of the Forum is to convene stakeholders working on NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa and have them brainstorm new public-private partnerships or projects involving the private sector that can help build the appropriate health information and systems to mitigate and prevent NCDs in the region. The end goal will be to present concrete and actionable steps or proposals for tangible projects/partnerships for private-sector involvement in resolving this growing health challenge at future conferences and meetings, such as the UN summit. Last month’s Forum launch was chaired by Mr. Haskell Ward, chair of the American Cancer Society’s Global Health Strategy Advisory Committee, and attended by civil society, private sector, and government officials, including ambassadors to the US from Angola and Mozambique. The session included presentations by American Cancer Society staff and representatives of GE Healthcare, JHPIEGO (international nonprofit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University), Medtronics, Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The next session of the Forum, ‘Projects and Partnerships for Screening and Diagnosis,’ will be held on August 5 at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN) office in Washington, DC.