The 2nd East Africa Women’s Empowerment Cancer Advocacy Network (WE CAN) Breast and Cervical Cancer Advocacy, Education and Outreach Summit was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Sept. 11-13, 2014. The 2014 Summit was co-sponsored by WE CAN at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/University of Washington and the U.S. National Cancer Institute Center for Global Health in collaboration with local hosts WAMA and MEWATA. The Summit brought together over 65 survivors, advocates, medical professionals, policy makers, government representatives, and others from 10 countries.
With early detection and access to treatment, cancer is survivable. (Producer/Writer Penny LeGate, Protographer/Editor Danny Gadd, 6-minute video, filmed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, September 2014)
City Stream: WE CAN Summit, Dar es Salaam,Tanzania, Sept. 2014 - To be told you have cancer is never an easy thing. But imagine living in a country where there`s virtually no information, little access to treatment, and scorn from your community. That`s the way it is for women in Africa who are diagnosed with the so-called female cancers--breast and cervical, but some very powerful women in Seattle are working hard to change that. (September 2014, 6-minute video)
Cancer kills more people in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) than HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria combined and has already surpassed infectious disease as the leading cause of death in many of these countries. Today, 70% of all cancer deaths occur in LMIC, yet 1/3 of these cancers are preventable and an additional third can be detected and treated.
WE CAN aims to make real and lasting change to prevent, treat and cure women’s cancers in low-resource settings by arming cancer advocates with information about breast and cervical cancer, linking them with other advocates and offering advocacy training to enable the success of their efforts. Through our summits we build networks and connect advocates, physicians, survivors, patients and policy makers. We believe the power of individual survivor advocates is multiplied through supporting regional networks to facilitate the exchange of best practices, build capacity, influence public policy and social norm change and empower women leaders.
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for women in East Africa; breast cancer is also a major cause of morbidity and mortality. This has been attributed to lack of awareness regarding the benefits of detection and treatment and late stage diagnosis as well as access to care. WE CAN advocacy training fosters capacity building, knowledge transfer and sharing of best practices in advocacy and outreach to dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer. Focusing on stigma reduction, cancer education, networking and capacity building are key to improving survivorship. We plan to use this opportunity to capture the stories of advocates and survivors to help raise awareness about women’s cancers.
WE CAN has been a global network for change since 2003. Headquartered at the UW School of Medicine and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, WE CAN aims to improve women’s health fostering the exchange of perspectives, resources, and strategies. To date, summits have been held in Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Uganda and Brazil. Our objective is to ensure progress towards reducing breast and cervical cancer-related death and morbidity, to promote capacity building, to influence public policy and social norm change, and to empower women to be leaders in their own communities. Advocacy and awareness-building are an integral step in curbing the emerging trend of breast cancer as a significant health threat to women worldwide.
In partnership with our regional counterparts, our Summits are organized and sponsored by representatives from the University of Washington /Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Consortium. Individual summits have received technical and/or financial support from the National Cancer Institute Center for Global Health, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Resource & Policy Exchange, as well as various in-country NGOs, medical centers, pharmaceutical companies and US Embassies.