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What is Cancer Advocacy?

Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group which aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. Health Advocacy supports and promotes patients’ health care rights, and enhances community health and policy initiatives that focus on the availability, safety and quality of care. The Cancer Alliance has adopted a human- rights based approach to cancer care that acknowledges that access to services is a matter of social justice, and gives voice to the voiceless.

To be the voice for those who have either been robbed completely of theirs or who aren’t equipped with the resources to raise them. To give voice to problems and issues that are ignored, unknown or deliberately hidden from public hearing. To equip and empower the voiceless to raise their voices in a way they will be heard. To enable the voices being raised to be heard, then listened to – and acted upon. “Conceptually, advocacy fits into a range of activities that include organizing, lobbying, and campaigning. Organizing is a broad-based activity designed to ensure that the views represented in advocacy come from those who are actually affected by the issue. Lobbying derives from the Latin word ‘loggia’, a room where one would meet directly with decision-makers to engage in (often private) quality discussions and debate. Compared to organizing, lobbying takes a more targeted approach and reaches out to fewer people. On the other end of the spectrum, the Latin origin for campaigning is ‘campus’, the wider battlefield. An advocacy campaign publicly promotes an agenda, involving platforms where a wide audience can hear the advocate’s message.”

UNICEF defines advocacy to mean: ‘to call to one’s aid’ or ‘to speak out on behalf of someone.’*

The Cancer Advocacy Toolkit

This new South African Cancer Advocacy Toolkit is based on the Photovoice research outcomes of Dr. Lynn Edwards and Linda Greeff.  (*See below for further details) This research captures the felt needs and experiences of a representative sample of cancer patients and caregivers in South Africa. The Cancer Alliance has distilled this into nine Priority Areas of concern, which also align with the UICC World Cancer Declaration, as follows:

  1. Access to cancer treatment
  2. Early detection and treatment
  3. Patients’ right to health care
  4. Cancer training and education for healthcare workers
  5. Cancer stigma
  6. Importance of psycho-social care for cancer patients and their families
  7. Re-engineering the health system to ensure integrated cancer services
  8. The negative impact of poverty on cancer services
  9. Collaboration between government, NGOs and CBOs to improve the spread of service delivery

For each Priority Area the Toolkit provides fact sheets, policy briefs and notes on how to meet the challenges, aimed at policy and decision makers. These are supported by sample stories drawn from the Photovoice research.  This is completed by providing suggested social media messaging which you can use in your involvement in our call Let’s Talk About Cancer.

Toolkit material for each Priority Area was released from February to November during 2017.

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