February 3, 2022
If We Close the Care Gap, Cancer Doesn’t Have to be a Death Sentence - Janine Huguenin
Campaign Manager at Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)Guest
The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) holds its annual initiative World Cancer Day on February 4. Global health, medicine and clinical research communities unite to raise awareness, improve education around cancer risks and emphasize the need for early diagnosis. Today, over 80% of all countries have a National Cancer Control Plan compared to just 66% in 2013.
On World Cancer Day 2022, UICC Campaign Manager Janine Huguenin joins us to discuss the ambitious "Close the Care Gap" campaign, with plans to bring equity to cancer health for all. From celebrating real-word progress and building stronger alliances to mobilizing politicians, celebrities and friends, Janine is determined to shake up the system for lasting change.
“We will just do more than spreading the word. We're going to shout it out from the rooftops. We are going to build stronger alliances and innovative new collaborations, and then it's really about mobilizing our friends, engaging our community. It's about rallying everyone we know behind this common cause.”
HANNAH LIPPITT: Hello and welcome to the Totally Clinical podcast brought to you by Teckro. Totally Clinical is a deep dive into the freshest trends, big time challenges and most excellent triumphs of clinical trials. I'm Hannah, your host. Join me as I chat with industry experts, trailblazers, thought leaders and most importantly, the people benefiting from clinical research. So, tune in, settle back and don't touch that dial. It's time to get Totally Clinical.
HANNAH LIPPITT: It’s World Cancer Day 2022 and welcome to a special edition of the podcast to discuss the theme for this year's official campaign, which is Close the Care Gap. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of the equity gap that affects so many around the world in low, middle and even high-income countries. And this message ties in with the work we've been doing at Teckro to highlight the importance of diversity in clinical trials so everyone can access best possible care.
Joining me to discuss more about World Cancer Day’s push to get the world talking about equity in cancer care is Campaign Manager for the Union of International Cancer Control Janine Huguenin. Welcome, Janine. Could you start by giving the listeners more background about this year's campaign?
JANINE HUGUENIN: Yes, absolutely. So, World Cancer Day is a global uniting initiative which is led by the Union for International Cancer Control and is held every year on the 4th of February, and it is one of the biggest health awareness days in the year, and it's trending globally on Twitter and is intended to be celebratory with hundreds of thousands of people around the world, including the highest levels of government speaking out to raise awareness about cancer risks, improving education, fighting stigma and inspiring action to reduce the number of cancer related cases and death. And so, every three years, we develop a new campaign intended to harness this energy and to focus on a particular theme.
In the past, it has been about how each individual's actions collectively can make a huge impact, but this year we are launching a new campaign – as you mentioned already, Hannah – and it is on the theme of equity and fairer access to cancer service called Close the Care Gap. And the reason why we're doing that is because half the world's population lacks access to the full range of essential health services, and unfortunately, the situation has only worsened with this pandemic, with more than half a billion people pushed or further pushed into extreme poverty due to health care costs.
And in most countries around the world, many people are unable to effectively access adequate cancer care, even though the infrastructures and expertise exist, due to a multitude of reasons due to socioeconomic condition, income or education level or geographical location. So, they may also be subject to discrimination or assumption with regard to their gender, gender norms, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity and other cultural norms.
And another really important part of the story is also the access to clinical trials. And so, the first year of the campaign is going to focus all on exposing the problem, on understanding it and recognizing the inequities in cancer care around the globe and realizing how that “cut the gap in cancer care” affects nearly everyone or someone, you know.
HANNAH LIPPITT: Could you talk me through how you came up with the theme for their campaign?
JANINE HUGUENIN: I was tasked with this mission to come up with a new theme for the next three years, and there was a lot of internal discussion with colleagues, but also with our members. World Cancer Day has an advisory group, so we invite members from all over the world to be part of this decision making, and with COVID having brought out the issues of equity and health care and the right to health to the forefront of global conversations, we really felt that now is the time to talk about equity. It's one of the words that keep coming up not only within UICC, but in general in the health space. And we have noticed that there is this new willingness or refreshed willingness to talk about this issue. Also, when you look at the social movements that are taking place, they are shaking up the public discourse, people are really demanding change.
So we wanted to take this momentum and be part of it and contribute to this discussion and make it about cancer because, yeah, a lot of people are still missing out on what is needed to get them the services that they deserve.
HANNAH LIPPITT: And I know that you have ambitious plans for the campaign moving forward into next year and beyond, don’t you?
JANINE HUGUENIN: And so in terms of our long-term vision for the year – as it's a three-year campaign for the year 2023 – as our campaign continues, we're going to look at joining like-minded people because we know we are stronger when we are united right? And we will celebrate real world progress in many forms – and it comes in many forms – and we will just do more than spreading the word. We're going to shout it out from the rooftops. We are going to build stronger alliances and innovative new collaborations. And then it's really about mobilizing our friends, engaging our community. It's about rallying everyone we know behind this common cause.
And then in the last year, it's all about bringing the attention to the higher level. Like, really, literally, we want to raise our voices and engage our leaders because now that we have the knowledge and a united community by our side, we are ready to shake the very foundations of justice and to become a lifelong advocate, fully equipped to push for lasting change.
HANNAH LIPPITT: It’s great that you have such far-reaching goals. Do you have any specific examples of projects and initiatives that you’re involved with for equity in cancer care that you could share with the listeners?
JANINE HUGUENIN: Equity is not a new buzzword for UICC. It's in fact a red line through all of our work. And so yes, we are involved in a multitude of different projects to make sure that there is equity in cancer care. So one, for example, is that we are part of the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer and are working with the WHO on planning and advocacy. So this is a program that tries to ensure that fewer cancers go undiagnozed in children in low- and middle-income countries, so that more children globally survive cancer.
We're also part of a project called Success. This is a partnership with Unitaid, Expertise France and Jhpiego. And this is about scaling up interventions to help eliminate cervical cancer.
HANNAH LIPPITT: Similarly, to Teckro, you’re also partnering with leading pharmaceutical companies aren’t you? Could you explain more about your work here?
JANINE HUGUENIN: We also work together with our partners, Sanofi, on raising awareness about the need to cater to the specific needs of older adults. Cancer and aging is a huge topic because they represent over half of all cancer cases and the number is growing. As you know, we have an aging population and we've done several articles on this and we are really involved with Sanofi on driving this forward.
HANNAH LIPPITT: There’s so much talk about equity and diversity yet there’s still a long way to go. How much progress do you think has been made over the last decade or so?
JANINE HUGUENIN: Yeah, it's true that we have a long road to travel to reach the level of equity in cancer care that we really desire that would prevent millions of people from dying from preventable disease. But you know, we do see that there is actually quite a bit of progress, in fact. More than half of all cancers are preventable if people would adopt a healthier lifestyle and would have regular screenings.
And organizations around the world are mobilizing to provide reliable information on cancer, and over 80% of all countries worldwide have now a National Cancer Control Plan, which is extremely important, and this is compared to only 66% back in 2013.
And then as well, technology and on the ground work by our cancer organization members are bringing mobile screening to hard-to-reach populations such as home self-testing kits for HPV and community outreach. And as well, the introduction of the HPV vaccine and national immunization schedules has reached 111 countries as of July 2021.
HANNAH LIPPITT: Every year, the World Cancer Day site has so many activities displayed so people can show their support for the campaign. Could you explain to our listeners how they can get involved this year?
JANINE HUGUENIN: Well, this year we are celebrating World Cancer Day and are hosting a Facebook Live event where we are speaking to a diverse range of voices about the need to close the care gap. We are talking to world class athletes, experts in diversity and cancer care, hospital administrators, cancer advocates, activists, cancer survivors, nutritionists, physical coaches and the list goes on.
And we're also looking at lighting up landmarks all over the world in navy, blue and orange, so illuminating the globe in a message of hope.
HANNAH LIPPITT: Navy and orange are Teckro’s colors too, so we’ll be watching to see which landmarks light up. Could you point our listeners in the direction of your website so they can find out more information about your work?
JANINE HUGUENIN: We have some really cool ways to engage with this topic on our website, which is WorldCancerDay.org where visitors can learn more about Close the Care Gap by completing a quiz, for example, or by signing up to the 21-day challenges focused on personal health or equity or on the elimination of cervical cancer.
And that website is also the hub for informational toolkits, posters, custom poster tool for crafting your own social media posts, logos, infographics, social media cards, how-to guides fact sheets... literally anything your heart desires to become part of this campaign and to make it your own. There is also a map of activities where you can see all the World Cancer Day events – whether virtual or real – that are happening across the world.
HANNAH LIPPITT: On a personal level what is your message this World Cancer Day?
JANINE HUGUENIN: Yeah, so I just would love to reiterate that World Cancer Day, first and foremost, is intended to be a celebration of survivorship of progress of a “we can” attitude, we can do something about cancer. It's no longer a death sentence. And we are in this together. We can all raise noise, lots of noise and remind everyone that we can win the fight against cancer.
HANNAH LIPPITT: And that's your dose of Totally Clinical. For all the listeners out there, you can follow Teckro on Twitter – the handle is @TeckroOfficial – LinkedIn and Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. And of course, download the Totally Clinical podcast on Apple, Spotify and Google. See you on your next visit and remember to bring your friends. Thanks for listening! Goodbye!