It was with great satisfaction that I was able to participate last November in the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in Mexico, the first one held in Latin America. It was an event marked by its high political level and cordiality offered to each participant by the organiser, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), and the host organisation, the National Cancer Institute of Mexico (INCan).
One of the most relevant meetings I had the opportunity to attend was ‘Leadership in Action’, sponsored by MSD. I decided to participate in the meeting for two main reasons: firstly, it offered a platform to share experiences with other organisations from the region in search of solutions to shared problems. Secondly, it focused on the important subjects of the development of sustainable funding models and the role of cancer registries in improving national cancer control.
I could see the high participation of senior executives from organisations, some of them already known, and others newly joined UICC members from neighbouring Central American countries. It was fantastic to sit down, discuss the proposed topics, and exchange views on aspects that were especially relevant for the region. Among them, the development of sustainable funding models, one of the biggest challenges of civil society organisations, especially in Latin America, was particularly interesting for me.
We had the opportunity to listen to successful experiences, which allowed me to see a wider spectrum of possible donors, as well as the different strategies that we can use from now on in my organisation to improve our funding model. Likewise, and given the importance of the issue of cancer registries for the control of this disease in the region, discussing the participation of civil society in the development, implementation and operation of cancer registers was highly valuable.
To encourage and nurture the conversations, the dynamics of the meeting helped greatly. These included a combination of roundtables with short presentations by the panellists, followed by enlightening discussions, and sharing the conclusions with the plenary. At some moments during the discussions, the widely known Latin American passion was revealed, helped by the fundamental fact that the event was developed in Spanish, allowing the participants to express themselves with greater freedom, as well as to exchange our respective points of view more easily.
Inspired by what I learned and by all that I sensed I needed to strengthen, I decided to start testing the waters to apply for a short-term leadership development grant, sponsored by the Prevent Cancer Foundation and presented as a follow-up activity at the end of the Leadership in Action meeting.
Less than two weeks ago, I was notified that I had been awarded a grant to go on a 10-day visit to the Cancer League from Argentina (LALCEC) with a project called ‘Learn, to grow’. In my role as President of ASAPRECAN, I need to strengthen my expertise and skills in organisational management related to marketing strategies as the ones presented during the ‘Leadership in Action’ meeting, rapidly attracted my attention, as well as regarding fundraising and organisational communication. Therefore, given the experience of LALCEC in handling external communications and developing successful fundraising campaigns and projects, I saw in these innovative bursaries a fantastic opportunity to develop my skills and, thus, ensure the sustainability of ASAPRECAN.
All in all, the ‘Leadership in Action’ meeting in Mexico widened my vision on the possibilities of establishing collaborations and improving our coordination, strategic planning and communication techniques. Above all, I realised that, as leaders of cancer control organisations, although we have great challenges ahead, we can address them by believing and fulfilling the tagline of World Cancer Day, ‘We can. I can’ join forces to make a difference.
Find more information on the Leadership in Action meetings here.