Awareness, Education, Prevention and Government

Awareness, Education, Prevention and Government

Last week we had several good discussions with our global patient advocates and scholar activists about breast cancer prevention and prevention of HPV related cancers. Not only cervical cancer can be prevented AND eradicated via vaccination; in total 7 devastating HPV cancers can be prevented too.

What became clear is that education of the citizens (when you prevent cancer you have to direct yourself to citizens, not patients) is of great importance. Via education we can help people become aware of the necessity of a healthy lifestyle and to vaccinate themselves against the HPV virus. Education is the way to reach citizens and show them the importance of having themselves screened for early diagnostics. Finding cancers in an early stage makes it possible to increase overall survival and it is also cost effective. 

We discussed this in our World Campus where all continents are represented. We learned that funding is of great importance when it comes to prevention, screening and early diagnostics. We also learned that with little focal money we can achieve a lot. Screening for cervical cancer can be done with vinegar and the treatment can be done for around $ 10,00.

In the western world, we have different techniques that cost a lot of money and the result might be better, but for low and middle income countries perfection is the enemy of the good. A lot is achieved with little money and we can make this even bigger. For cervical cancer the program that brings this is ‘Screen and treat’. 

Government is needed in prevention. It is their number one mission! We should be aware that the only stakeholder in the medical industrial complex that has an advantage of prevention is the patient. As Bob Weinberg once stated at one of our Annual Congresses: ‘You patient advocates are by far much better equipped to explain the importance of prevention than we scientists!’ And yes; we are. We know what it is to get diagnosed with cancer, being treated and die.

All other stakeholders have an interest in more patients. More patients mean more revenue and more profit. The only way to get out of this, is to have patient advocates in the position of decision makers. Governments should take their responsibility and put us there. By bringing all stakeholders at one table we have the right discussion with all interests and go for the win-win. I’m convinced there is one. And in the exceptional situation that there is not, patient advocates will take the decision in favour of the patient. As it should be in healthcare. 

Peter Kapitein
Patient Advocate Inspire2Live