Capacity building in Asia-pacific region

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Published: 18 Dec 2014
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Paula Kim - Founder of TRAC

Paula Kim talks to ecancertv at the UICC World Cancer Congress 2014 about consultancy firm, TRAC and the part it plays in capacity and capability building in cancer care, especially in countries with less developed advocacy programmes such as those in the Asian-pacific.

TRAC is a global consulting firm and we work across the country, across the world, working with all the various stakeholders in the area of healthcare, health promotion, cancer control etc. Aiming to help get everybody working together to increase capacity, to increase capability, to particularly help those in countries sometimes that are lesser developed in their advocacy programmes and their outreach programmes to really help improve the environment, if you will, and the leadership.

A lot of my background is in the United States, having been the co-founder and the former CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, PanCAN. For the last six or seven, ten years or so though a great deal of my work has been in the Asia-Pacific region. The problems there are advocacy and outreach in those areas is relatively new, relatively undeveloped. So you have sometimes many energetic and enthusiastic people but they know that they need help in building their capacities. Sometimes they don’t know how and then sometimes the health professionals also understand that there’s potential from relationships and to have the interaction but they too, it’s an unfamiliar area for them, as it is for the government officials.

So the results have been really exciting. For example in Japan many of the advocates that I’ve worked there now, in Japan they now have a national cancer control plan. It’s in its second iteration, let’s say, of the five year plan and so that’s wonderful. But what’s most important is in all of the prefectures, which are like the states in Japan, there are now advocates working together with the government officials and the health professionals at the prefecture level communicating, learning about the cancer control plan and being a part of the process. That’s one thing that I’ve had the privilege of being a part of is helping those advocates develop their skills; it’s been wonderful.

In China it’s interesting, we’ve been doing research there around how do Chinese patients and people get their information on health and how do they make decisions with that information. So we have a project with our global advocacy leadership academy programme that we’re creating at George Mason University. We’re working in collaboration with the Chinese Ministry of Health and with Renmin University, our academic partners in Beijing. We’ve done this study now in three provinces in China and it’s modelled after a United States HITS study. So we’re sharing that research and it’s interesting because the Chinese people know that they need to get the information but, as you know, there’s the Western/Eastern culture and the differences sometimes.

Good. And there’s difference in the outcomes?

Differences in the outcomes, absolutely. If you use China as an example the Chinese government and the people have realised that cancer is becoming and is a significant problem in that country. So they recognise the importance of needing to do more awareness education. And because even if we go there with the technology and the tools there still needs to be an acceptance by the people to really understand it and to follow through on doing it and to work with their clinicians that way in what would be called their health outcome part.