Civil society can play big roles in mobilizing and protect domestic resources
Speaking at the recent World Cancer Congress 2018, Carmen Vallejo Auste, managing director of Cancer Warrior Foundation, Inc., said civil society can help complement governments in aspects of which may be overlooked. One of the ways, Auste said, is by being a ‘light house,’ which is to bring attention to areas where government and public funding support is needed. As an example, civil society lobbying in the case of HIV and hepatitis C has contributed to some governments and pharmaceutical companies lowering prices of treatment and even providing treatment free of charge for patients.
Another way civil society can contribute to cancer care in a nation is by being a ‘magnifying glass’ or watchdog. They can closely monitor and demand transparency in terms of how funds are being channeled towards cancer care and hold governments accountable for their actions. This constant scrutiny functions as a check and balance towards government bodies to ensure they utilize the budgeted finances in an optimal manner, thus benefiting cancer patients as much as possible.
Auste noted that it is also possible for civil society to serve as an amplifying voice to create public demand for increased or improvement of much needed cancer services and facilities. Additionally, civil society can also serve as a connector or bridge between the government and private funding sources. This will avail more funds for cancer care.
How the Warriors do it
Auste’s own foundation the Cancer Warrior Foundation, fights for childhood cancers. The foundation’s prime objectives are represented by the acronym FIGHT. It closely reflects her suggestions for civil society’s role in cancer care as a whole. According to the social media site, the acronym FIGHT is explained as such:
‘F’ stands for facilitating where the foundation facilitates increased awareness and understanding of childhood cancers, with emphasis on early detection, proper management and care.
‘I’ refers to initiating programmes and activities that will inspire cancer patients, survivors and their families. It serves to drive the message that there is hope and life, even with cancer.
‘G’ is the generation of support and proactive involvement of various sectors in information/education/communications and advocacy (especially on childhood cancers).
‘H’ is the help that goes to the poor and impoverished children, ensuring that these children with cancer will have access to timely and appropriate diagnosis, proper treatment and quality care.
Finally, ‘T’ is taking the lead in building and strengthening linkages and encouraging resource sharing between and among local and international groups involved in cancer prevention and care.