Who is the Cancer Alliance?

You may have noticed a new logo on the cover,  and wondering who is the Cancer Alliance, and what exactly do they do. 

The Cancer Alliance is a collective group of cancer control non-profit organisations and cancer advocates, brought together under a common mandate, to provide a platform of collaboration for cancer civil society  to speak with one voice and be a powerful tool to affect change for all South African adults and children affected by cancer.

In May of 2011, the Voice of Cancer Survivor Forum was held, in Cape Town, to create an opportunity for cancer survivors to express their needs regarding quality of care, attitudes, practices, policies of cancer control and services in SA. The below key outcomes were acknowledged:

• Cancer survivors of all ages have a valid reason to make a case regarding inequalities in accessing treatment and care, and they have the right to quality healthcare, as enshrined in the constitution.

  • Survivors’ stories have the power to be a voice for the voiceless.
  • The importance of working together to combat the cancer burden.
  • Through defined collaboration, civil society could speak with one voice, to be a powerful tool to affect change for all cancer survivors.
  • The opportunity and value of sharing each others’ points of view, and that change comes when we choose to commit to it.
  • It is each citizen’s human right to access each aspect of the cancer continuum – timeous and free from stigma and discrimination.
  • The media needs to play a role in educating the general public about cancer, and making cancer voices heard.

During the Forum meeting, civil society’s declaration of unity was based on the founding principle, that it would be disrespectful of the courage and conviction shown by each survivor telling their story, not to develop a call to action that would act as a mandate to guide all actions that strive to ensure a better journey for all cancer survivors.

The following themes were outlined in the national call to action:
  1. To ensure that cancer becomes a national priority.
  2. The development of a national cancer control plan.
  3. The improvement of cancer registries and data.
  4. To ensure investment and funding for education, training and infrastructure.
  5. To reduce stigma and discrimination of cancer patients and survivors.

It was envisaged that this commitment to the national call to action would promote activities by each cancer civil society group to actively find strategies, develop leadership and implement actions that will create a collective voice against cancer. The Cancer Alliance has adopted the themes of the national call to action’s as the starting point for the development of it goals and programmes.

The subsequent call to action of 2013, delivered at the UICC World Cancer Leader’s Summit in Cape Town, focused on: 
  1. Cancer services to be equitable across provinces, standardised national guidelines, and current, well-maintained functional equipment.
  2. Partnerships that will support patient-centred collaborations to increase awareness and education; focus on busting myths and removing stigmas the patients face; and to address socio-economic issues that impact cancer patients.
  3. Training that will ensure adequate time allocated in all curricula for healthcare professionals regarding medical and psychosocial issues.
  4. Increase the access to cancer treatment, focussing on pricing structures and programmes, fast-tracking of breakthrough cancer medicines and technologies. Immediate revision and expansion of the essential drug list (EDL) in line with WHO/international best practise and promoting public private partnerships that will benefit the patient.

The Cancer Alliance EXCO focused on these matters in dedicated advocacy efforts directed at the Minister of Health and the Department of Health.

In 2016, the Cancer Alliance joined the Fix the Patent Law (FTPL) campaign to focus on the issues relating to cancer drugs in SA. This is supported with a grant from the Open Society Foundation that enabled the Cancer Alliance to employ two part-time technical experts to further our work in this field.

A dedicated advocacy toolkit was released for World Cancer Day 2017 for members. The nine focus areas of the toolkit were garnered from the Photovoice research, gathered from cancer survivors and caregivers across the country. Each of the nine focus areas will include a fact sheet, policy brief aimed at decision and policy makers, and social media messages for cancer survivors and advocates. These will be released monthly until November 2017.

The current membership reflects 21 non-profit organisations and one independent cancer advocate.

Any cancer non-profit organisation or professional organisation involved in cancer interested in joining, can contact us on [email protected] or visit their website