Stronger Together: The Global Fight Against Cancer

This week, NSH attended the American Society for Clinical Pathology Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. At our booth in the exhibit hall we were able to connect with individuals from various laboratory science disciplines and educate them about the important role histologists play. We heard from many pathologists that were grateful for the histologists they worked with, who made their jobs easier with their efficient and accurate work. Their words truly confirmed ASCP’s motto, “stronger together”.

“Stronger together” was also the underlying message of Wednesday’s general session, presented by Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, President of the Union for International Cancer Control. The session, Leading the Fight Against Cancer: A Global Call for Action, highlighted the impact that we can make when people with a common goal combine their efforts and present a unified front.

Princess Dina’s group, The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is a coalition of over 1,000 organizations, including ASCP, that have teamed up to fight the global burden of cancer. Cancer currently accounts for 8.8 million deaths annually, with approximately 70% of those deaths occurring in low/middle income countries. Here, barriers to quality care are perpetuating an inequality- whether you survive a cancer diagnosis is a lottery based on where you live and the resources available to you. Barriers to quality care include obvious problems, such as poverty, lack of equipment for accurate diagnosis and treatment, as well as not so obvious problems, such as social stigma of the disease, and lack of government regulations.

Princess Dina realized during her own son’s battle with cancer, that more needed to be done to have cancer recognized as the global epidemic it had become. After much work, she was able to unite not only cancer organizations, but those who represented other non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, which had fallen by the wayside in the global health community as communicable diseases such as AIDS and malaria had become the priority. As a result of her collaborations, Dina Mired was invited to present the keynote at the first ever United Nations High-level Meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in 2011.

Since then, UICC has launched several initiatives that have made a recognizable difference in the fight against cancer. In addition to partnering on a global scale, UICC has also partnered regionally with cities who are willing to make cancer control a priority. The City Cancer Challenge project partners with cities in low income countries, acting as a consultant to help them develop and implement a plan that will improve the access to quality care for their residents. Through this model, C/Can has helped cities like Asuncion, Paraguay, Yangon, Myanmar, and Kumasi, Ghana, bring all of the stakeholders in their city together to collaborate.

As histotechnologists, we understand the toll that cancer takes on our patients and we too can join the global fight. If you are interested in getting involved in international cancer work, check out ASCP’s Center for Global Health or connect via The Block, with an NSH member who has worked internationally, such as Dave Davis or Debbie Wood.

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