Cancer under the Canopy

Imagine if you were ill but your condition was never diagnosed. How would you feel if a loved-one was dying of cancer, but you couldn’t afford their treatment? Many Liberians will never know if they have cancer and those who are diagnosed are faced with an almost impossible problem to fund their treatment in one of the poorest countries in the world. The Liberian Ministry of Health – with many supporters – want to change that.

GSK has given me to opportunity to travel to Liberia for 6 months, to work with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and embed within the Liberian Ministry of Health to help drive that change (but any opinions here are my own, not those of the Ministry of Health, CHAI or GSK) . I joined the team in June and together we have developed our goals: reduce specific cancers through vaccination and information campaigns, develop capability in the health workforce, and build capacity to diagnose and treat target cancers. Next month will see the opening of a new Pathology Laboratory in the main teaching hospital – a vital step for diagnosis and we are building further programmes and projects that take us towards our goals.

Spectacular views from the remains of the Ducor Hotel

After work I run on golden beaches and explore the vibrant streets of Monrovia; I have lost sweaty squash matches in staggering humidity and expanded my horizons through conversation with everyone from barbers to ambassadors.

Meeting the former President, Ms Sirleaf
  • 26 July is Liberian Independence Day and I was honoured to meet former President and Nobel Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a celebratory concert by the National Academy of Music.

My hope is that I can help Liberia to implement safe, effective and sustainable cancer care – I’d love to hear from you if you have any ideas or experience that could help.