Launched in partnership with Pfizer, the Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC) Grants aims at empowering organisations worldwide to address the specific needs of women with metastatic breast cancer in their own country.
Through a series of portraits, UICC would like to introduce the SPARC awardees and highlight some aspects of their individual experience. Today, meet Albert from Rwanda.
What made you want to participate in the SPARC MBC challenge?
The main reasons for me to join this programme were to better understand the disease and to widen the opportunities for experience sharing, as well as to strengthen the existing breast cancer support groups.
Can you remember any particularly challenging situation – previous to your enrollment in the SPARC programme – in which the lack of resources or the context, impeded you to provide the care or attention you wished?
Challenges were mainly related to the lack of funds and mentoring partners to enable our team on the ground to initiate and run support groups, along with the lack of necessary skills and knowledge for the team to retain these support groups. It was particularly challenging to create permanent forums to raise awareness about metastatic breast cancer among Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence patients and to think about measures that can be put in place for early detection of breast cancer.
What is your philosophy towards your work?
My philosophy is to get the work done. We seek to ensure that all patients have access to preferential treatment regardless their ability to pay and we do whatever it takes to make sure that even the most vulnerable have access to quality healthcare.
What is the most challenging about your work?
Leading a social support programme is challenging and requires a lot of attention and energy. Inshuti Mu Buzima works in rural area where most of our beneficiaries are poor and it uses government guidelines and criteria to select underprivileged patients to support. We collaborate with governmental institutions again to economically empower the most vulnerables through diversified income generating activities. We believe that poverty and disease are interlinked and therefore dream to continue breaking the cycle of poverty through advocacy and creating linkages with existing private and public partners in the area of social protection.
Can you please describe yourself in one word?
I always have my eye on my organisation and country’s vision and endeavour to deliver promises on time. My key duty is to support patients and their families to access healthcare and improve their livelihood.
Have you started your patient support group meetings led by navigators yet? How are they going, what feedback did you receive?
Yes we started the meetings. The navigators explain what breast cancer is, the stress it can imply and how to cope with the disease. They also present the social support services that are available. The first sessions were very successful: patients enjoyed the discussion and drew our attention to the growing need of breast prosthesis.
For more information on the SPARC MBC challenge please click here.