Alianza GIST had the opportunity to give two presentations at the Fifth International Cancer Control Congress (ICCC5) in Lima, Peru at the beginning of November. The ICCC5 is a global cancer control meeting with full participation of government and non-government cancer control practitioners, professionals, patients/advocates, researchers and volunteers committed to learning and sharing experiences, tactics, and best practices on cancer control.
The focus this year addressed the following areas: improving and sustaining prevention; mobilizing all of society for effective cancer control; using data and evidence to improve population health; improving integrated approaches to cancer treatment and care; and integrating research, practice and policy priorities to improve cancer control. The congress this year coincided with the anniversary of “Plan Esperanza” (“Plan Hope”), a Peruvian government initiative that seeks to improve comprehensive cancer care and access to oncology services in Peru. The Peruvian President, Ollanta Humala, was featured in the opening ceremony and emphasized the need to create a culture of prevention and promotion of healthy habits. “I think we should all agree that the best time to fight cancer is in the preventive stage” he said.
Addressing an audience of international health experts, President Humala noted the efforts the Peruvian government has done in lowering cancer rates in Peru and thanked the “Plan Esperanza” for the big step it has achieved in providing free coverage to patients fighting against cancer.
Health authorities such as Clarissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Midori De Habich, Peruvian Minister of Health, also participated in the opening session of the Congress.
The Life Raft Group and Alianza GIST participated in two sessions. The first one: “Mobilizing all of Society for Effective Cancer Control” was aimed to understand and strengthen a response from the society to the growing challenges of cancer by achieving a better impact in public policy while informing and engaging all of society. In this framework, we participated in the workshop: “Integration across regions and sectors”, in which we presented: “Alianza GIST: Building a Coalition in Latin America”. We explained how Alianza GIST was formed, highlighting the importance of the LRG, and its scientific knowledge, technology and resources such as Patient Registry and Tissue Bank. These resources help Alianza GIST achieve its main goal—the survival of GIST patients in Latin America.
Our second participation was in the session: “Improving Integrated Approaches to Cancer Treatment and Care”. This session addressed how to highlight integrated approaches to interventional treatment, management and care of patients based on global or Latin American experiences. Alianza GIST presented in the workshop entitled “Mobilizing Communities,” which explored ways in which organizations build supportive networks and strengthen advocacy efforts, and reinforce efforts in education and training. Alianza GIST presented “The Rare Disease Movement: The Importance of Collaboration between Academia and Civil Society”, in which we explained how Alianza GIST partnered with Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey, Fundación GIST Mexico and The Life Raft Group, using an inter–sectoral approach to cancer control. This online GIST CME training initiative has been replicated in other countries in Latin America to teach physicians and medical students about diagnosis, treatment and management of GIST.
In the Session about “Improving Population Health: Using Data and Evidence to Support Policies and Programs”, we were able to confirm the importance of our Patient Registry Program, hearing international health experts talking about the importance of improving the health of the population, and how can the data be translated into evidence based practice guidelines that health care providers can use to influence health seeking behaviors. All of this confirmed how proud we are about Alianza GIST and the Life Raft Group accomplishments with the Patient Registry.
Other Alianza GIST members participated in this Congress, such as Eva María Ruiz de Castilla, from Esperantra (patient advocacy group in Peru) who was co-chair in the plenary session: Mobilizing all of Society for Effective Cancer Control, in the Workshop “Building Social Movement”, and a panelist in the Plenary Session: “Integrating Research, Practice and Policy Priorities to Improve Cancer Control” featuring “The political science perspective: How is policy influenced beyond the health perspective”.
Maurice Mayrides, Alianza GIST representative in Peru and Director of Esperantra was also present at the congress with a poster which analyzed the patients’ power in Peru.
The closing ceremony featured The First Lady of Peru: Mrs. Nadine Heredia and Dr. Simon Sutcliffe, President of International Cancer Control Congress Association (ICCCA). Both who gave inspiring messages of how we can take the information shared at this Congress and apply it to our global work for the cancer community.
This was an incredible opportunity to participate in this congress and to have Alianza GIST and The Life Raft Group be able to showcase their work with the global cancer community. It also gave us a better understanding of public policy issues and the importance of working with different stakeholders to achieve change. It demonstrated how important it is to collaborate with key partners to achieve our goal of improving survival of the GIST community.