Canada Fund Supports Digital Training for Volunteer Cancer Champions 

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Volunteer Cancer Champions in prelim consultations.

 

Ten Volunteer Cancer Champions (VCCs) will undergo a digital knowledge and skill capacity building training on the delivery and demonstration of ‘Healthy eating for people living with cancer’.

The Samoa Cancer Society pitched the idea to the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), seeking support when the ‘Call for Proposal’ was advertised for NGOs earlier this year.

The SCS through this project will address one of the major challenges faced by cancer patients and their loved ones who are expected to take up the palliative care responsibilities at home, with little preparation and lack of understanding of what palliative care entails within the home and community setting. 

Palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing a life limiting illness through the prevention and relief of suffering, making it possible for people to die with dignity.

Seiuli Verona Parker, Shelley Burich and CFLI Samoa Representative Lorenz Wright. Initial discussions Jan 2020.

Palliative care, while not curative, has nevertheless been proven to prolong life and restore quality of life (Temel et al, 2010).

The restrictive circumstances due to COVID-19 have highlighted the need for an alternative mode of delivery instead of the usual direct awareness outreach and for strengthening the capacity of Cancer Society VCCs to utilize virtual/online platforms. 

The group of 6 female and 4 male from Upolu and Savaii were selected from a group of 58 participants of the ‘Train the Champion’ workshop. This was part of the SCS Vave II Cancer National Campaign; another SCS initiative for awareness and capacity building that was implemented over the period of July 2018 to August 2019. 

The digital capacity building training will further empower the VCCs with skills and knowledge to be able to confidently utilize Digital Video Streaming Platforms (DVSP) such as google chat, zoom or skype, and to receive training and cancer resources from SCS online. 

The training aims to leave VCCs well versed on the delivery and demonstration of SCS Palliative Care Resources and more importantly, gain an understanding of Palliative Care for their village community. 

The VCCs will be given an opportunity to prepare and deliver what they have learned in a virtual/online presentation back to SCS Team at the end of this project.

The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives had considered SCS’s proposal as a ‘particularly attractive one especially in the current COVID-19 circumstances, as it addresses one of the impacts of lockdown and builds capacity to serve palliative care patients. 

CFLI says the Samoa Cancer Society, as a non-government organization has a proven record of successful projects, but had not benefitted from CFLI funding until now.

CFLI added that this project is well aligned with some of their priorities and annual CFLI strategy.

“It continues Canada’s line of work on Non Communicable Disease Prevention in Samoa”.

The Acting High Commissioner for Canada to Samoa, Mr Nicolas Sabourin, based in Wellington, congratulated the Samoa Cancer Society Team in an email correspondence with SCS CEO Su’a John Ryan stating that their team is very much looking forward to working with SCS over the coming months to support the successful delivery of this project to which Canada Fund is contributing a total of CAD $33,000.00

SCS CEO Su’a John Ryan signs the CFLI Agreement.

The SCS has 12 months from July 2020 to implement this pilot project. 

Background: 

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, continue to be a priority area of concern in Samoa (National Non Communicable Disease Policy 2017 – 2022). Currently NCDs are overtaking communicable diseases as the leading health problem and are the dominant diseases for which there is a need for palliative care.

Lack of access to palliative care is one of the largest global inequalities in health care – worldwide only 14% of people who need palliative care currently receive it with 78% of those going without living in low- and middle-income countries (WHO, 2018). For children the situation is worse with even less access to palliative care and a much higher risk than adults to face inadequate pain relief.

In addition to this, demand is continuing to grow due to the increasing population of elderly who also have end of life needs

Although Samoa is working hard towards a robust tertiary medical service, it will take time for these measures to take effect, in the meantime there needs to be consideration into how to support patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

Palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing a life limiting illness through the prevention and relief of suffering, making it possible for people to die with dignity. Palliative care, while not curative, has nevertheless been proven to prolong life as well as restoring quality of life (Temel et al, 2010).

In 2018, the Samoa Cancer Society conducted a Forum with the Ministry of Health therefrom the first National Palliative Care Guideline was drafted and pending further review.