The 6th Women’s Empowerment Cancer Advocacy Network (WE CAN) Africa Breast and Cervical Cancer Advocacy Summit was held in Johannesburg, Gauteng, in March, in collaboration with Cancer Alliance and Advocates for Breast Cancer.
About WE CAN
WE CAN has been a global network for change since 2003. It was founded by Prof Julie Gralow, a medical oncologist who specialises in breast cancer, and is headquartered at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Advocacy, education, access to treatment and survivor support are integral to addressing the growing burden of women’s cancers worldwide. Thus, WE CAN was created to embrace, connect and empower women around the world to address these disparities in their communities.
WE CAN supports evidence-based education and fosters capacity building and knowledge transfer in advocacy and outreach to: dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer, reduce stigma, and improve survivorship.
The WE CAN summits promote regional collaborations, linking advocates and survivors to clinicians, policymakers and opportunities. The belief is that the power of individual survivor advocates is multiplied through supporting regional networks, to facilitate the exchange of best practices, build capacity, influence public policy, social norm change and empower women leaders.
To date, 15 WE CAN summits have connected hundreds of advocates from more than 30 countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America. This has resulted in increased cancer knowledge, engagement of survivors in cancer policy and leadership, creating new initiatives and collaborations.
The 6th WE CAN Africa Summit brought together over 60 cancer survivors and advocates from nine countries – South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, USA and Switzerland – as well as local clinicians and policy makers.
The South African NGOs that attended were: Breast Health Foundation, CANSA, Cancervive, People Living with Cancer, Project Flamingo, Reach For Recovery and Wings of Hope.
The objectives of the two-day summit were:
- Improve knowledge regarding management of advanced breast cancer in Africa.
- Foster discussion on messaging for HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screening in Africa.
- Raise awareness about resource-stratified guidelines for breast and cervical cancer.
- Discuss models for successful patient navigation in Africa.
- Develop locally-relevant evidence-based advocacy action plans.
- Strengthen message development and advocacy communication skills.
- Foster development of alliances and a regional network to facilitate sharing of best practices.