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Samoa Cancer Society / MediaPosts  / Samoa Cancer Society, first Pacific Island Cancer Champion of Worldwide Treatment for All Campaign

Samoa Cancer Society, first Pacific Island Cancer Champion of Worldwide Treatment for All Campaign

 

Friday, 7th February, 2019– Apia, SAMOA

The commemoration of World Cancer Day this year has culminated in an announcement from the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) that Samoa Cancer Society has been selected as a 2019 Country Champion for the Treatment for All Campaign.

Samoa, is the first and only Pacific Island Country represented through the Samoa Cancer Society from more than 50 countries and over 100 organizations that expressed an interest, following a call for applications launched at the World Cancer Leader’s Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in October 2018. 

 ‘Treatment for All’ is the name of a bold and inspiring advocacy initiative run by UICC. It calls on the international cancer community to address the global equity gap in access to cancer services by getting behind four essential pillars of cancer treatment and care: 

  • Improving the quality of cancer data for public health use
  • Increasing the number of people with access to early detection and accurate cancer diagnosis
  • Providing timely and quality treatment for early and metastatic disease for all
  • Providing a basic supportive and palliative care service for all.

Over the last seven years, the UICC has united the cancer community to position cancer on the global health and development agenda, with the inclusion of cancer and non - communicable diseases in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) in 2015 and culminating in the successful adoption of a cancer resolution at the World Health Assembly in 2017.

 The CEO of UICC, Dr. Cary Adams says, “globally, we have committed to reducing premature mortality from cancer and NCDs 25% by 2025, and the work of these Country Champion organisations will contribute to the real impact we want to see. There is no time to waste in translating global commitments into national action”.

 In selecting the 17 Country Champions, the UICC faced an incredibly competitive process with the countries including Samoa, selected on the basis of their preparedness to take national action and engage meaningfully with various stakeholders in the implementation of a national Treatment for All advocacy campaign. 

The 17 Country Champions selected including Samoa Cancer Society are as follows: 

  • Asociacion Guatemalteca Heroes de Esperanza, Guatemala
  • Asociacion Salvadorena Para la Prevencion del Cancer, El Salvador
  • Asociacion Tour Rosa de Costa Rica, Costa Rica
  • Borka for Each New Day, Macedonia
  • Cancer Association of Namibia, Namibia
  • Cancer Warriors Foundation, Philippines
  • Esperantra, Peru
  • Fondation KIMI, Burkina Faso
  • Kenyan Network of Cancer Organisations, Kenya
  • Kurdistan Save the Children, Iraq
  • Ligue Senegalaise Contre le Cancer, Senegal
  • National Cancer Council of Mongolia, Mongolia
  • NGO Avesto, Takikistan
  • Nigerian Cancer Society, Nigeria
  • Samoa Cancer Society, Samoa
  • Tata Memorial Hospital, India
  • Women Coalition Against Cancer, Malawi 

Below is the interview between UICC and Samoa Cancer Society to select the final countries who would be the Champions: 

UICC wanted to know what work (if any) we do across the four key pillars:

  1. Improving the quality of cancer data for public health use
  2. Increasing the number of people with access to early detection and accurate cancer diagnosis
  3. Providing timely and quality treatment for early and metastatic disease for all
  4. Ensuring at a minimum a basic supportive and palliative care service for all.
  5. Cancer data – SCS has been advocating for the need of a national cancer registry with MOH and NHS (stakeholders) since 2013.  Each year, we highlight the importance of this registry, the lack of accurate data that would assist with research and funding toward improving (or implementing) cancer control and services for Samoa.  We also advocate and implore on a regular basis to receive updated cancer incidence rates through the MOH PATIS (Patient Information System).

 

SCS was also part of the research study conducted by Dr Filipina Lei Sam on Socio-Demographic Risk Factors Profile, Incidence, Treatments and Outcomes of Cancer in Samoa:  A 10 Year Retrospective Study (2007-2016) with one of her report recommendations being – “there is a great need to establish a National Cancer Registry for Samoa”

As a Country Champion for this campaign – we will continue to advocate for the establishment of the cancer registry and the sharing of updated reports to all stakeholders, and continue to work alongside MOH in putting this into fruition.

 

  1. Early detection and cancer diagnosis – the core work of SCS is its’ education and awareness programs, utilising multimedia avenues and direct outreaches to reach a large portion of the Samoan population.  The two Vave campaigns (2016-2018) have enforced the three key early detection messages – vave iloa, vave vaai se fomai, vave vili mai.  Early detection cancer resources brochures and leaflets are distributed throughout the year.

Receiving an early cancer diagnosis is a challenge in Samoa due to many different factors such as the lack of qualified cancer specialists; limited ability to conduct on-site biopsy results and many times only one visiting pathologist on occasional visits; and lack of a patient follow-up service to provide timely results and diagnosis. SCS provides a follow up service for its clients for results.

As a Country Champion for this campaign – we will continue to advocate for improved early detection and diagnosis for cancer.  The Vave campaign is to continue for the next two years at least, encouraging people to know the signs and symptoms and the benefits of early detection.  Implementation of the SCS community liaison rep within the village communities will assist in the reach of these messages to communities that don’t have easy access to medical advice.  The improvement of a cancer diagnosis to the patient is underway with improved partner building between SCS and MOH with a MOU needed to ensure the sharing of patient information such as biopsy and diagnosis results occur more efficiently and effectively.

 

SCS’s will continue with education and awareness campaigns on signs and symptoms of cervical cancer and will assist in the education around the HPV vaccination in preparation for the roll-out of the regional vaccination programme.

 

  1. Treatment – SCS continues to advocate for improved treatment options for cancer patients (both locally and overseas) and is actively involved with the draft MOH National Cancer Control Program that will address cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care in a controlled environment (e.g. services, programs, support, local and overseas stakeholders, ngo’s, patients and families, community).  Having a national cancer control program is important to address the needs of patients and their families and the gaps in the services and providers.  This provides a guided pathway for government to identify the priority areas to address first when it comes to improving cancer control in our country.

 

As a Country Champion for this campaign – SCS continues to be involved with these discussions and continues to advocate that this program be part of the health sector review agenda.  By highlighting the gaps in services and providers, SCS provides a platform for government to re-commence work on the first draft.  We provide relevant data and proof of the lack of services and challenges a cancer patient (and their family) face every day.

 

  1. Supportive Palliative Care – we are the pioneer of instigating the need for National Palliative Care Guidelines for Samoa.  The health sector has a different view of what palliative should look like in Samoa, without first understanding what Palliative Care is and the type of model that would best suit Samoa’s needs.  SCS provided the platform through the National Palliative Care Forum for all stakeholders including patients and carers to discuss what would work best – incorporating the ‘home-based model’ with community members, organisations and family members all sharing in the care of palliative patients.

 

As a Country Champion for this campaign – SCS will work alongside MOH and WHO to revisit the Forum report and complete the Terms of Reference for the proposed Working Group on the National Palliative Care Guidelines.  We are committed to ensuring this document is prepared and receives endorsement from government.  We have also been instrumental in introducing an online undergraduate palliative course through the University of Gold Coast (Australia) with the fourth year NUS medical students undertaking the first course in 2018.  This has provided them with an insight into what palliative care is and another option to consider as a specialty area of training. 

 

We are doing work in all areas of the UICC campaign and we continue to prove our commitment to making change happen that will help cancer patients and families living in Samoa.