Our Guest Blogger is Patty Montero, our MaxStation in Guatemala. Patty has worked in cancer control with us for many years and her experience is serving patients well by bringing groups together for social change.
In Guatemala, there are 14,200 new cases of cancer a year and from this amount 9,100 people die of cancer or 64.7%. Most of these diagnoses could have been prevented or better treated if diagnosed early. In Guatemala only the persons who have access to the national social security plan have free services and treatment, but poor quality and lack of medications or in most occasions. People who do not have social security have to pay for health services and for medications. As per statistics taken from Globocan 2008, the most common cancers in Guatemala are prostate, cervix, stomach, breast and lung cancers.
On February 4th, we celebrated the World Cancer Day in Guatemala. There were two events, one meeting of motivation for the cancer patients organized by Heroes de Esperanza, and also the launch for the media of the new “Guatemalan Union Against Cancer” “Union Guatemalteca Contra el Cancer” (UGCC).
The newly formed Union Guatemalteca Contra el Cancer (UGCC) is a coalition of 10 organizations which works against cancer in Guatemala. Through the years, the groups have met many times to get to know about each other’s work and came to understand that is better if we work together to advocate for the Guatemalan population to have access to early diagnostic, treatments, rehabilitation and palliative care against cancer.
Our goal is to continue working together to influence policy makers to give the proper attention and take action to overcome this problem. These organizations include activists, patients, survivors, physicians, relatives of patients and volunteers. Together is possible to create a lot of cancer awareness and programs designed to benefit many persons, patients, survivors, etc.
UGCC is working to strengthen the coalition and inviting other organizations to join, while learning to find the proper way to influence law makers to help in this cause. The coalition is also working to address the other problem of the poor cancer statistics, and it is necessary to design an action plan.
Thanks to the training received and events I have attended with The Max Foundation, I have been participating in this initiative. I am glad to have transmitted my experience and knowledge into this international framework.