June 25

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Today…

Today cancer is the second leading cause of death globally

Today approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low and middle-income countries[1]

Today it is estimated that less than 5% of patients needing chemotherapy have access to treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa[2]

Today more than 90% of cancer patients in Liberia present with locally advanced or metastatic disease.[3]

Today I embark on a life-changing experience. I hope to be able to support the work that the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI) is doing in Liberia and globally, on cancer, to address some of the imbalances that life in a low or middle-income country delivers to cancer patients.

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My journey to the PULSE10 team started when I joined GSK 4.5 years ago. I knew, as soon as I heard about the scheme, that I wanted to carve a path to applying as early as I could.

The application process culminated in our PULSE orientation training; the most inspirational 3 days of my career at GSK (of course, bar the inspirational speeches from Pierce Kent!). As one of the 66 volunteers from 20 countries, going to 30 countries to work with 26 different NGOs for 6 months, it was both humbling and energising to hear the stories of PULSE alumni and new recruits alike…not to mention 50+ of us dancing in the GSK conference facility in AN4.

West African buddy

A familiar face on the journey!

 

I arrived in Monrovia 3 days ago, on what seemed to be the height of rainy season (I knew so little!). Our PULSE orientation in clinical West London seemed a distant memory now that I was faced with the commotion of the airport here in West Africa

Day 1 has been both exciting and overwhelming. The opportunity seems so vast and relatively untouched. It is heart-breaking to hear Florence’s story of losing two friends to cervical cancer before they even left school and tough when you learn that regimens of treatment are not being completed due to insufficient financial resource. It’s here that the opportunity lies to #bethechange. The passion and enthusiasm for this has been common across my PULSE experience in both West London and West Africa. Through the work of CHAI and other organisations working in Liberia, the hope is to reduce costs and improve access to screening and treatment. In leveraging global agreements, coordinating activity nationally and driving to consolidate forecasts centrally, the hope is that these goals can start to become a reality.

As an aside, on my journey back to my temporary home, I saw a real-life Presidential motorcade …perhaps my new coffee buddy awaits!

#bethechange #PULSE10 #liberiangirl #newcoffeebuddy

 

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Views expressed in this post are those of the author and not of GSK or CHAI

 

 

[1] http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer

[2] CHAI cancer program summary

[3] Cancer Control Capacity and Needs Assessment Report – IAEA, PACT,WHO