Rising Sun for people living with CML in Asia

risingsun_banner_smallOn 9-11 April 2010, cancer advocates working in Asia witnessed a new beginning: the first conference for CML advocates in the region, Rising Sun, conveyed in Hong Kong. This unprecedented event was a "dream come true" for many of the participants.

Representatives from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Japan and the Philippines, joined by advocates from New Zealand, Australia, US and UK, spend two days getting to know each other, sharing best practices, and learning from each other. People who up to now had lived parallel lives without knowing each other, finally had the chance to meet in person and develop tight connections.

The conference was sponsored by Novartis and organized through a Steering Committee with participation of key advocates. The main focus was on advocacy and capacity building, with topics ranging from use of social media to working with corporate partners, as well as a workshop on identifying the main problem in your country and developing a solution for it.

The session generated a great discussion. What do you do when the main problem lies on the lack of access to basic health care by your group members? What can be done when people do not have resources to cover the bus fare to attend their doctor’s appointment, and no funds to pay for even a blood test? How to manage CML when there is no monitoring capacity in the country?

risingsun_delegates_india.malaysia.philippines.jpgYet, within the groups, important examples of best practice appeared and the leadership and courage of these advocates became evident. The final session was a show and tell where each group gave a good example of what can be accomplished with determination and passion.

By the end of the meeting it was clear that this group is here to stay and that the initiative has great potential to improve the situation of people living with cancer in the region. For next year, we are hoping for representation from advocates in Thailand and Vietnam and a few other countries who were unable to attend this time.

By the way, Sandy Crane who was there as a guest speaker, did a great job promoting the CML Advocates network, so let's hope to see several new registrations to the site.

Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, The Max Foundation

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