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Uniting civil society to advocate for equity in access to cancer services for patients in Mexico

12 July 2018

Adela Ayensa, General Director of Salvati, Mexico, one of the first organisations to commit to Treatment for All, an inspiring and ambitious advocacy campaign led by UICC, shares the steps Mexico has taken to bring together civil society to advocate for better access to cancer treatment and care.

Salvati is a non-profit organisation that supports underserved patients and families dealing with all types of cancer, with a particular focus on breast cancer.

Our mission is to help cancer patients and their families improve their quality of life through specialist therapies, as well as generating awareness about the secondary effects of cancer treatments, for example, Lymphedema, and developing projects that help people understand the importance of early detection and risk prevention.

Our multidisciplinary team of specialists consists of physical therapists, a psychologist, nutrition experts, support groups, and oncology aestheticians.

Through knowing our patient’s history and challenges firsthand, it encourages us to work more in public policy. With this in mind, we know it is imperative for our patients’ voices to be heard and, little by little, we have learned to collaborate effectively with other foundations to work together as a team towards the same priority: the patients. This team is called ‘Juntos Contra el Cancer’, and links not only with national organisations, but also with coalitions in Latin America.

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Click to zoom – UICC Treatment for All workshop in Mexico

In 2017, alongside six other foundations, namely Asociación Mexicana de Lucha contra el Cáncer, FUTEJE, Fundación Luis Pasteur IAP, MOLACAP, Red contra el cáncer y Respirando con Valor, we founded Juntos Contra El Cancer, the largest and most inclusive movement in Mexico, gathering all people who, in an organised, ethical and transparent way, want to improve the cancer environment in our country. We represent patients and relatives, civil organisations, health professionals, institutions and authorities.

Last year, we participated in the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit organised by UICC in Mexico, and it was there that we had the great opportunity to engage with UICC to make a difference to the cancer control landscape in Mexico. Following this collaboration, we joined UICC’s Treatment for All campaign with the shared objective to achieve visibility of cancer control in the global health and development agenda and to call for improved access to cancer data, early detection, treatment and care in Mexico and around the world. For instance, we have adopted the slogan, “Tratamiento para todos por un mundo y un México sin cáncer,” which translates to, “Treatment for All for a world and a Mexico without cancer."

Meeting with advocacy experts and sharing experiences with other foundations during events run alongside the 71st World Health Assembly this May, I learned that the needs in health coverage are practically the same in many countries around the world.

We were then joined by UICC in Mexico, where they had the opportunity to meet with members of Juntos Contra el Cáncer and, most importantly, to meet with our patients. Patients told the stories of their struggles and, for the first time, the campaign truly had a face in Mexico. For us, Treatment for All is not just words on paper, they are real needs for real people. The four pillars of Treatment for All - data, early detection and diagnosis, timely and quality treatment and supportive and palliative care – highlight what our patients and our country need.

During the meetings, Mayra Galindo, General Director of Asociación Mexicana de Lucha Contra el Cáncer said, “There are many different Mexicos: one where treatment is readily available, another where the possibility of treatment is there, but you may have to wait a long time to receive it, and one where there is no access to treatment whatsoever.” We know them all.

We want to change this reality, ensuring equity in access to Treatment for All. Health is a universal right, and we want to achieve a Mexico without cancer. We have already begun to take steps to present Treatment for All to our new government in Mexico, and we are developing an advocacy plan across Juntos Contra el Cáncer and in conjunction with UICC. Together, nationally and globally, we represent one voice calling for government to recognize patients’ needs and the necessity of investing in cancer control.

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About the author

Adela Ayensa Alonso (@adelaayensa), with a Diploma in Management and Social Management, has worked for different NGOs for more than 18 years, across the health, education and children’s rights sectors. She has worked with Salvati (@SalvatiAC) for 3 years.

Last update: 
Thursday 12 July 2018
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