Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Despite this fact, the lack of access to resources can make it deadly. 90% of deaths attributed to cervical cancer are a result of inaccessibility to necessary resources, treatment, and screening.
Francophone Africa is one of many areas that struggles with this issue and women’s cancers in general. Currently, the necessary resources for women’s cancers screening and management are slim. Even when services are available, they are not accessible or affordable to those that require them.
In an attempt to close this funding gap, the Union for International Cancer Control has partnered with ThinkWell to consider and research how an integration approach can work to improve women’s cancers control efforts.
Integration is an approach that involves assessing the already-existing health programs and considering where and how women’s cancers care can be incorporated into them. To achieve this, Marie-Jeanne Offosse, the Country Director of ThinkWell Burkina Faso, presented a guide to integration during a women’s cancers workshop for UICC.
To begin, it is important to review the financing ecosystem of the community. To do this, we must consider how cancer care is currently funded, and what the barriers to that care are for those who need it. In Francophone Africa, these barriers include limited services and delivery points, little comprehensive care, and a lack of necessary staff and equipment.
To improve the outcome of women’s cancers care, we can implement an integration approach that promotes partnership with existing programs. To do this properly, we must understand what country-specific issues need to be addressed in order to achieve integration. From there, we can harness local opportunities by assessing current women’s health programs and determining which ones would be able to absorb women’s cancers care as a priority. To decide which program, or programs, are best suited for integration, we can use a grading system that evaluates their existing priorities and goals, financial sustainability, and potential for partnership.
Finally, we must settle on the most appropriate integration approach. Considering all the above information, we can articulate our approach through targeting, timing, and telling. For example, we can determine who our stakeholders for policy recommendations are. This might include ministers, executives, and civil society leaders. Then, we pay attention to timing: when are the best windows for planning and budgeting to best implement this integration approach? From there, we must pinpoint our key messages and the value integration offers to both our goals and our audience’s objectives.
By implementing an integration approach through these methods, we can work toward making women’s cancers care more available, accessible, and affordable for those who need it. This will ultimately allow for less women’s cancer cases leading to death. Providing access to screening will permit women and medical professionals to become aware of the cancer as soon as possible, and by having better access to treatment, they should be able to recover. With these goals in mind as this approach is implemented, women in Francophone Africa will have the resources they need to battle this preventable cancer.