The SPARC Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge award Haiti with Innovating Health International
Innovating Health International (IHI)/Project Medishare for Haiti in cooperation with the Haitian Group de Support contre le Cancer (GSCC) and as many as 10 other local partners are half way through implementing a Breast Cancer education campaign in Haiti supported by the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) and Pfizer. The project aims to research barriers to women’s cancer care in Haiti and build a comprehensive set of education and communication tools for local and government partners. These tools are designed to improve patient navigation, increase breast cancer awareness and early detection as well as promote supportive communities where women seeking cancer care is encouraged and accepted.
The project is part of the UICC and Pfizer’s SPARC MBC Award, a joint initiative aimed at empowering advocacy groups, hospital networks, support groups and other organisations worldwide as they initiate projects to close the gap in information, support, awareness, and policy between metastatic breast cancer and early breast cancer, as well as help reduce the number of women diagnosed at the metastatic stage of breast cancer.
Six months into the project, Innovating Health International with the GSCC have completed a nationwide research project to research knowledge, beliefs and barriers to women’s cancer care by surveying over 400 men and women and conducting 35 different focus groups in 5 departments across the country. The research was designed and carried out by a Community Advisory Board of 5 local partners who jointly wrote and executed the study. The Advisory Board held a conference on the 13th of June to analyse the preliminary results and a report will be shared by the end of July.
The communication and education tool-kit will informed by the survey results be built over the next three months. IHI plans to develop an education manual for Community Health Workers (CHWs) to learn and communicate about breast cancer, a set of visual communication tools, a series of Television Spots featuring patient advocates and pre-recorded radio spots for distribution in community radio stations. IHI have already completed a patient education and orientation tool, designed by patient advocates and our design team. All visual communication tools have the potential to be adapted and modified to fit other Caribbean contexts and languages.
IHI and the GSCC have also spearheaded an initiative to engage patients and their family members to act as Lay Women’s Health Promoters in their communities. IHI’s patient support group currently has 128 women enrolled and 30 of these members have been formally trained to act as health promoters. The program has been hugely successful in empowering these women to act as focal points in their community for other women who may have breast problems. The program is entirely voluntary and women health promoters speak about their experiences and educate their communities about cancer through their churches, schools and through the media. They have helped IHIs clinic more than double the number of monthly presentations of women with breast cancer.
Over the next six months Innovating Health International and the GSCC will be working closely to write up the results of the research project and develop the remaining elements of the communication and education tool-kit. These will all be available open-access on our website, so that any organization operating in Haiti or elsewhere that is fighting to treat breast cancer can have access.
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