Through our Meet The Targets grants-based program, the American Cancer Society supports national advocacy efforts to include NCD targets and indicators in government policies to help with addressing the cancer burden in developing countries.
The Caribbean: Launching a Revolution Against Cervical Cancer
A trained outreach worker in the Cayman Islands promotes the cervical cancer petition.
Cancer in the Caribbean: The Caribbean region sees 91,000 new cancer cases and 53,200 cancer deaths every year (GLOBOCAN 2012). The Caribbean is among the four highest sub-regions in the world with respect to incidence of cervical cancer (Strategic Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of NCDs for countries of the Caribbean Community 2011-2015, CARICOM).
Under the American Cancer Society’s Meet the Targets grant, HCC developed a Civil Society Strategic Plan of Action for Prevention & Control of NCDs for Countries of the Caribbean Community 2012-2016 with four strategic approaches — building capacity, advocacy, enhancing communication, and promoting mobile health and electronic health. This plan guides all of HCC’s work during the 2012-2016 period. A logframe in the plan is the basis for the annual work planning exercises and, so far, HCC is on track to meet the targets laid out in that logframe.
In March 2013, HCC conducted an advocacy workshop for 21 Caribbean cancer societies that resulted in the formation of the Caribbean Cancer Alliance (CCA) and the development of a CCA Facebook group to allow for real-time communication between members. This is a prime example of harnessing social media to advocate for health. HCC also developed advocacy plans, an advocacy handbook, and a social media guide for civil society.
Emerging from the 2013 meeting, the HCC, supported by the CCA, implemented a Caribbean cervical cancer awareness and advocacy campaign called End Cervical Cancer Now, which called on the heads of Caribbean governments to increase women’s access to affordable cervical cancer screening. A petition was launched with a video and a Facebook page on June 11, 2013, which as of September 2014 had more than 13,000 signatures, including the prime ministers of Jamaica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The End Cervical Cancer Now campaign attracted global attention during the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York in 2013 when the Pan-American Health Organization highlighted the campaign and how it has spurred Caribbean governments to take action. HCC used the international Globe-athon, a walk to end women’s cancer, as a platform to promote the campaign.
The coalition’s work under this grant supports the World Health Organization Global Monitoring Framework on NCDs and its recommendation that women between the ages of 30 and 49 be screened for cervical cancer at least once. The grant fosters an approach in which all the key stakeholders are involved, and in which donors support government-led strategies for a collective approach to the fight against NCDs.
HCC says the success of the Meet the Targets initiative led to a grant from the Australian Direct Aid Program in support of cervical cancer capacity building in five Caribbean cancer societies. The grant was successful and resulted in the screening of almost 2,000 Caribbean women, including vulnerable women in indigenous populations who live in extreme poverty.
The organization’s achievements in the area of cervical cancer advocacy and service provision were featured during a side event at the 2014 United Nations NCD Review. “The HCC has been able to use this relatively small grant as the catalyst to create significant impact and add tremendous value to the cervical cancer advocacy movement in the Caribbean,” said Professor Trevor Hassell, president of HCC.