Last week, we shared with you information on the global burden of breast cancer. Today, we’d like to take a closer look at the work we are doing in Latin America specifically.
Over the past 10 years, the Society has collaborated with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), Ministries of Health, journalists, and other institutions in countries throughout Latin America. The American Cancer Society (ACS) has supported regional NGOs on grant projects that aim to promote public awareness about cancer, develop culturally-appropriate health communication strategies, train health professionals, and influence cancer control policy.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer and cause of cancer deaths in women in Latin America. In 2008, approximately 114,898 new breast cancer cases were diagnosed and 36,952 women died of breast cancer in the region. And, these rates are expected to continue to increase.
Through providing advocacy grants and sharing expertise, we enable local cancer nonprofits to improve policies and patient care and make a greater impact on breast cancer. This year, six of them are part of the ACS Brazil Survivor Project (Projeto Vitoriosa), an innovative project that combines advocacy grants with a personalized and intensive capacity-building consultancy to strengthen NGOs leadership, sustainability, impact, and mobilizing power.
Projeto Vitoriosa aims to empower survivors to effect policy change through strategic engagement with decision makers and the media and the strengthening of civil society leadership. These ongoing advocacy grants have led to the training of hundreds of advocates, the strengthening of collaborations between local stakeholders, increased participation of advocates in decision processes, and a greater commitment of municipal and state authorities to breast cancer control.
Meet our some of our “Survivor Project” Grantees
Associação Brasileira de Apoio aos Pacientes de Câncer (ABRAPAC), based in Rio de Janeiro
ABRAPAC is developing and implementing a project entitled “Breast Alert!” (Mama Alerta!) aimed at identifying key complaints and issues faced by women using public health services for screening and treatment, and informing decision makers and the media about them to promote improvements in access, service delivery, and policy implementatio
Associação Brasileira de Portadores de Câncer (AMUCC), based in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina
In addition to advocacy grants, the American Cancer Society also supports information projects that focus on raising awareness of breast cancer early detection among the general public and community health workers, with a focus on poor underserved communities. The ongoing information projects are leading to the training of more than 2,000 health professionals working in underserved urban and rural areas throughout Brazil, including community health workers and primary care doctors. These projects have led to training and education of a variety of other audiences including nurses, community organizations, the media, and the general public. These trainings includes the promotion of regular doctor consultations and breast exams, raising awareness of breast cancer and the importance of breast cancer early detection.
One of the most impactful of these projects is the work of Núcleo Assistencial para Pessoas com Câncer (NASPEC), to raise breast cancer awareness in the interior of the state of Bahia, where late stage diagnosis is the norm. Through this project, NASPEC helped raise awareness of breast cancer and promote early detection in 18 municipalities in the interior of the state of Bahia through training 1,826 community health agents of the Family Health Program.
To strengthen breast cancer advocacy activities throughout the region, the Society supported the creation of the Latin America Coalition on Women’s Cancers, ULACCAM (Union Latinoamericana Contra el Cancer de la Mujer). The coalition, now in its third year, aims to strengthen regional and national legislation and public policies for the effective regional control of women’s cancers. ULACCAM is currently chaired by Mexican NGO, Fundacion CIMA*B and includes NGOs from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Chile. In Mexico city in September this year, the American Cancer Society worked with Fundacion CIMA*B to hold an ULACCAM regional meeting as well as a training for 15 journalists from Latin American countries to improve breast cancer reporting.
"Gesture of Love" campaign.
The American Cancer Society work in Latin America has led to funding, education, and training for thousands of advocates, volunteers, and health care professionals. These actions have strengthened national advocacy efforts and brought positive policy changes for cancer control, helping to de-stigmatize cancer, promote health equity, and improve the quality of life of those diagnosed with cancer.
To date, ACS has organized more than 20 NGO trainings and trained close to 150 organizations from 16 countries working in cancer control in the region. ACS has awarded more than 100 grants to more than 75 NGOs. The work of ACS grantees in the region has led to 68,100 cancer screenings conducted, 21,600 people trained in cancer awareness and/or advocacy education, 277,500 cancer informational materials distributed, and 500 meetings with decision makers. But, we won’t stop there. We continue to work in the region and around the world, building relationships and working to generate awareness for the cause. To learn more, visit global.cancer.org.