Last year, some 120 individuals from 25 organisations in 20 low- and middle-income countries were selected to join the 2020-2021 Project ECHO® for Knowledge Summaries for Comprehensive Breast Cancer Control, a six-month course that ran from November 2020 to May 2021 to increase the capacity of participating organisations to develop and implement strong breast cancer control policies and programmes in their region.
In order to put into practice the learning and skills gained and to implement their respective projects, 15 of the 25 organisations submitted an application to receive a follow-up grant of 20,000 USD as part of UICC's Breast Cancer Programme.
Following a comprehensive selection process, and marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, UICC is pleased to announce the four successful grantees and their projects:
Each of the selected projects offers a different strategy to detect and diagnose breast cancer earlier and faster for disadvantaged or otherwise hard-to-reach populations.
The Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health is a collaborative initiative between the Rutgers Global Health Institute in New Jersey (USA), the Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the University of Botswana as well as Jhpiego. The Partnership works on developing research, training programmes and improving national planning to fight cancer.
With the grant, the Partnership for Health aims to improve patient navigation and overcome the fragmentation of care that not only causes delays between diagnosis, referral and treatment, but also contributes to a lower adherence to appointments and patients not completing their course of treatment.
“This project will be vital in improving access to breast cancer diagnostic procedures and in shortening the time from diagnosis to care, which currently suffers extended delays in this setting. Equity in health care means timely access to care.”
– Dr Peter Vuylsteke, Medical Oncologist, Botswana-Rutgers Partnership for Health and Senior Lecturer, University of Botswana
FEMAMA, Federação Brasileira de Instituições Filantrópicas de Apoio à Saúde da Mamao or “The Brazilian Federation of Breast Health Support Philanthropic Institutions” advocates at the national level to increase access to medicines, treatment and care for breast cancer patients. The organisation also runs awareness campaigns about risk factors, healthy living and the importance of self-examination and screening, to prevent and detect breast cancer early.
FEMAMA aims to grant access to genetic hereditary and genomic tests for breast and ovarian cancers in the Unified Health System (SUS). This means detecting and treating cancers earlier, as well as a better prognosis for the patient, allowing more women to benefit from personalised care, improving chances of survival and greater quality of life. FEMAMA continues to build on a legacy of advocacy wins, and is pushing for the adoption of a bill by the Brazilian National Congress to grant access to genetic and genomic testing by end 2022.
"If one day we envision having a society where everyone is treated equitably, we must urgently address the social determinants of health. If we want a world where there is justice, we have to sit down, discuss and face the elephant in the room. It is not fair that people continue to die from types of cancer that can be prevented and cured. FEMAMA’s project aims to guarantee access to timely diagnosis and adequate treatment with genetic and genomic tests for those who do not have them."
– Dr Maira Caleffi, Volunteer President FEMAMA, Brazil
The King Hussein Cancer Foundation, was established in 1997 by the late King Hussein to respond to the increased need for cancer care for adults and children. The Jordan Breast Cancer Program (JBCP), created by the King Hussein Cancer Foundation, empowers women to take informed decisions about their health and on improving access to screening for disadvantaged populations so that cancers are detected earlier.
JBCP’s goal is to organise five advocacy workshops to lead national policy reform and unite the country in providing free early detection services for Jordanian women. Their advocacy work will target three areas: encourage social behaviour change and raise awareness; improve service delivery of early detection and screening; and ensure the sustainability and impact of early detection services and awareness campaigns. Sustainability is achieved by creating a supportive environment with the active involvement of decision-makers and the buy-in of advocates to ensure funding.
“Better health equity means that every women has the right to access affordable preventive healthcare and is empowered to take informed decisions on her health. JBCP’s goals will be achieved through soliciting support for all activities intended to be implemented on the ground and unify country-based action against breast cancer to provide comprehensive early detection services for Jordanian women and ensure better health outcomes.”
– Dr Reem Alajlouni, Director of the Jordan Breast Cancer Program, King Hussein Cancer Foundation
ICI’s mission is to pioneer interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, translate new knowledge into better prevention and treatment, and provide compassionate clinical care that improves the lives of people with cancer and their families.
At the International Cancer Care and Research Clinic in Kenya, about 80% of breast cancer patients are diagnosed at stage IV, which offers very low changes of survival. According to ICI, many people are not well equipped with knowledge of self-examination and early signs. Others cannot access biopsy services at facilities where they receive care due to lack of skilled healthcare personnel, and often are lost in the referral system due to poor navigation systems and financial difficulties.
ICI’s project aims to address the knowledge gap among community health volunteers regarding risk factors and early breast cancer diagnosis, with teaching aids that can then be used to make household visits on a regular basis. It also intends to build the capacity of local hospitals to conduct biopsy procedures on breast lumps. Finally, the project will invest in patient navigation to facilitate the journey of people with cancer and ensure that they get a prompt referral and complete their treatment.
“Thanks to the grant, we aim to provide access to high-quality breast cancer screening services for all populations through community linkage and referral. We will train 60 community health volunteers, provide 10 clinicians at two sub-county hospitals at Seme Sub County with surgical skills to perform biopsies, identify and train four Nurse Patient Navigators, and support patients in need."
– Dr. David Muyodi, Manager of the ICI Center for Clinical Care and Outreach
Ensuring that underserved populations access life-saving services and care that their situation requires is key to closing the gap in cancer care. Early detection offers higher rates of survival and is therefore crucial to reducing the cancer burden.
UICC warmly congratulates the four grantees and wishes them all success in implementing their projects.