HHD Global Programs (of EDC’s Health and Human Development Programs) is working with the American Cancer Society in the worldwide fight against cancer by developing modules for a signature international curriculum that has already reached 245 scholars from 62 countries.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2000, there were 10 million new cancer diagnoses and six million cancer deaths globally. Seventy percent of these deaths occurred in developing countries. While the U.S. and other developed countries have had cancer control programs and systems in place for decades, developing countries have only recently faced dramatically escalating cancer rates as their residents live longer and have increasingly Westernized diets and rising rates of tobacco use. Because cancer is a relatively new problem in the developing world, many of these countries do not have qualified personnel or adequate resources to respond to cancer locally.
To address this gap, HHD Global has designed the training modules for American Cancer Society University (ACSU), the Society’s signature international program. Drawing on over 90 years of cancer control experience, the American Cancer Society created ACSU to strengthen the capacity of emerging cancer societies in developing countries by training cancer control leaders in key aspects of running community-based cancer control organizations and programs. Countries from around the globe, from Nigeria to Mexico to Malaysia, have sent scholars to be trained at ACSU.
“The ACSU training sessions provide a special opportunity for cancer control leaders from developing countries to increase their knowledge and skills and to network with cancer control leaders from their own country and other countries to share experiences and ideas,” says Wendy Santis, Senior Research Development Associate in HHD Global Programs.
The ACSU training modules include topics that are essential for designing and running cancer control initiatives, including program planning, governance, advocacy, media relations, volunteer recruitment and management, prevention and detection, patient services, and fundraising.
However, the ACSU trainings do much more than simply impart knowledge and information. The trainings also include practical sessions for participants to practice skills they have learned, begin action planning, and network with other cancer control leaders. After participating in the program, the ACSU scholars return to their home countries with the knowledge, skills, and supports they need to create organizations and programs to reduce the burden of cancer in their own communities.
Scholars also receive seed grants from ACSU to launch new programs, projects, or interventions in their home country based on what they learned during the training. Seed money has been used for vital programming such as: establishing a tobacco and cancer study unit in Ethiopia; starting a prostate cancer awareness program in Jamaica; holding a workshop on building and effectively running a cancer organization in Vietnam; and recruiting and training volunteers to serve as educators in Bolivia.
“ACSU is a unique training that enables scholars to understand various facets of cancer control through a comprehensive curriculum,” stated Monika Arora, an ACSU scholar in India. “The best part of the curriculum is country-specific adaptation of information, facts, statistics, and examples. ACSU trains scholars to become effective advocates to augment the agenda of national cancer control programmes in a concerted matter and to plan activities in a strategic way.”
To reach as many cancer control leaders as possible, trainings are held in the U.S. for participants coming from various countries, and also held in other countries for participants from those specific areas, including China, India, Japan, and Latin America. In the latter cases, the curriculum is adapted to each country or region’s individual cancer-related problems and needs, which allows participants to build cancer control capacities specific to their area.
Originally published on July 1, 2006