Paul Farmer, myself, Dr. Shulman (Dana Farber CMO)
Day 2 began with a briefing on the newly commissioned report from Livestrong, on the global economic impact of cancer, by Doug Ulman and Dr. Meiro-Lorenzo, Senior Public Health Specialist, Human Development Network at the World Bank. It was followed by working sessions on leadership within the cancer community, reach to drive social change and innovative approaches to cancer control. I chose to join the group focusing on underserved populations. Our group was comprised of individuals from 7 nations addressing a wide range of populations, from Aborigines in Australia’s outback to the inner-city of Chicago. We had very stimulating discussions that reinforced how so many of the issues are the same no matter where in the world you are trying to drive change.
The highlight of the day was the presentations by Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of PIH, and Dr. Larry Shulman, Chief Medical Officer at Dana-Farber cancer Institute. They presented on delivering cancer care in resource limited settings. I was so enthused to hear Dr. Farmer’s thoughts on tackling a chronic disease as so much of the work PIH conducts is on the most basic health care needs. As the underserved begin to live longer lives they too are impacted by chronic diseases. To be able to discuss some of these issues with the leaders in the field was an absolutely amazing opportunity. Some of the take home points included:
-There is opportunity for scalable models of care for many cancers in developing settings.
- We need to integrate treatment and prevention simultaneously. The key is to find ways to decrease the cost of the medications while implementing screening and awareness programs. In many ways addressing the cancer burden is no different than addressing TB.
-You cannot eliminate education, screening, prevention or treatment at the expense of each other.
-A good clinical exam (which does *not* have to be by a physician), awareness, and self exams can lead to early detection without relying on MRI’s, CT’s and other technological modalities used in the developed setting.
-EVERYONE has social problems that limit effectiveness of care, it doesn’t matter where you are located!
We also learned a bit about the Harvard Global Equity Initiative which aims to address challenges to equitable global development.
The day was brought to a close with an amazing reception and dinner at the Guinness Storehouse. To have the opportunity to speak and share ideas with so many passionate committed individuals that are truly leading this movement was an opportunity of a lifetime.
Below is a video that was shared the second morning of the conference, “A World Without Cancer.”
“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead