AORTIC and the benefits of coordination between different US NCI-designated cancer centres in Kenya
Dr Lisa Stevens - National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, USA
Could you tell us more about AORTIC?
AORTIC is the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer and they not only have a presence in Africa but they also have Vice-Presidents in different locations of the world, including in the US.
Tell us more about your upcoming meeting in Nairobi.
We’re planning a meeting coming up in Kenya. One of the things I was talking about at the local AACR AORTIC meeting was this new paradigm called the Stakeholders’ Meeting. What we’re hoping to do is bring together different organisations, both US government as well as NGOs, to partner with the in-country Ministry of Health and in-country universities in order to be able to carry out the priorities that the Kenyans have for cancer research.
What happens if you get your paradigm wrong?
What’s happening right now is there isn’t a lot of co-ordination. So we found out we had seven US NCI-designated cancer centres all working in Kenya but not necessarily working together. So what we’re trying to do is leverage resources and leverage partnerships with this up-coming meeting, for example with the CDC, USAID and other health and human services departments.
How do you negotiate between grassroots and top-down approaches within the organisation?
We do have a planning committee that involves multiple organisations both from the US and Kenya. So it’s individual researchers in the US, individual researchers in Kenya, like I said, the Ministry of Health and other US government agencies. So it’s really a hybrid, we’re really trying to take into account all opinions and all perspectives as we plan the agenda to focus on research, training and cancer registration, all the different possible outcomes.
What do you feel is the best paradigm for moving forward?
I think the right sort of paradigm is really to partner with as many organisations as possible, so to set forth the goal and find out who is willing to contribute.
Is it good to include a wide range of organisations, including patient advocacy?
Yes, we do have some local advocacy organisations that are involved in this upcoming Stakeholder Meeting because, again, we want their perspective. But we also know that advocates are often motivated to push the agenda forward so we want to have their voice at the table.
What is the relevance of this African organisation to the rest of the world?
If this Stakeholder Meeting goes well we’re hoping that we can find other countries where there are these multiple actors who want to address the cancer agenda and we could bring them together for a similar type of meeting.
So a lot can be learnt from this?
Exactly, yes. Partnership is really the key.