The part of the UICC vision that I’m most compelled by is global equity and really wanting to make a difference in ensuring that people around the globe, whether that’s at a whole of world level or within a country level, have equal access to the best cancer outcomes that are possible. Equity is increasingly being part of the landscape for how UICC does its work. It’s gone from being an organisation back in its early iteration of really an organisation that brought scientists together and as other organisations developed for those more science and clinical aspects the UICC has found that space in really convening the global conversation about cancer and where the world wants to take itself and a big part of that is obviously equity.
Could you tell us about your other work?
I’ve worked in an international way for more than twenty years. I spent two eight year terms on the board of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care. I’m a nurse by background and I really was compelled through that work to understand that those of us in high resource countries have a lot to learn from those in resource poor countries but also a lot to give and share. Part of what brought me to UICC is that it takes that up a level in engaging the conversation so nurses are one constituency but UICC brings together all of the clinical disciplines but it also brings together civil society, has conversations with government and with important international organisations like WHO. So it’s a really great platform for having those conversations. For me, one of the compelling reasons for that is that, because I’m a nurse, many times nurses are not at the table of conversations and yet they’re 80% of the health workforce in the world. It’s through nurses, not just oncology nurses but nurses working in maternal and child health, nurses working in community care, that we can begin to really embed prevention programmes to make sure people are on pathways to appropriate diagnosis and treatment. So I’m really compelled to get that nursing voice much more strongly recognised as an important part of the solution.
Could you discuss Ana Langer’s work on women and health?
Ana was one of my top picks for the conference and really trying to highlight that even though these things are women’s issues, or framed as women’s issues, women at many levels are the guardians of health of the community, they are the informal caregivers, as Ana talked about this morning of the several trillion dollars’ worth of contribution of women, much in an unpaid capacity, around the world towards health. Yet they are not at the table of decision making but they are the front face of civil society. Everybody knocks the pink movement but what breast cancer has done has been a movement led by women to put cancer on the global agenda. Now what we need to be able to do is take that kind of compelling women’s approach to civil society movement and use it in a much wider way.
Is this similar to Princess Reema’s work?
Yes, so Princess Reema is a really interesting example, isn’t she, where she’s someone who has grown up in a Western country and has moved back to Saudi Arabia and has, because of her royal status, has been given an opportunity to place women’s approaches to health firmly in a political agenda. So her role across health and sport, which is interesting, really will be a great platform in Saudi Arabia to engender greater cancer awareness but also use the growing empowerment of women in the Middle East for greater good.
What is your take home message?
UICC is at a fantastic step in its maturity. I’ve watched over the last four years, six years actually, with my involvement on the UICC board. It’s really now beginning to be a trusted partner for government organisations, for private sector organisations and has a potentially powerful role in bringing together all of those players to maximise our impact on the global burden of cancer.