In October 2010 The Max Foundation, in partnership with 30 cancer patient associations in emerging countries, organized a global cancer awareness campaign.
The aims of the campaign were: (i) to increase awareness of the needs of people living with cancer in developing countries; (ii) to increase local visibility of patient associations in their countries; (iii) to collect more than 10,000 signatures to the World Cancer Declaration (WCD); and (iv) to improve the lives of cancer survivors by providing them with an opportunity to express their feelings about the disease.
The campaign was developed as a global effort, to be implemented by local patient associations through their volunteer survivors and caregivers. The methodology at the global level included developing the framework, branding, and communication tools, while making available limited funding and heavy logistical support. Local patient associations were encouraged to adapt the initiative to a culturally accepted format. Key elements of the campaign were the mix of low tech and high tech elements to allow low tech populations to participate while promoting the initiative using social media and high tech tools. Additionally, the participation of survivors and caregivers ensured the campaign provided immediate benefit to cancer patients. Finally, the addition of the World Cancer Declaration provided a strong unifying component.
More than 60 events were held in 31 countries around the world, collecting more than 13,000 signatures to the World Cancer Declaration and a similar number of support messages to cancer survivors representing 84 countries. Local events gained local media visibility in many countries, and the campaign was promoted in multiple international forums and Web sites.
This initiative involving mobilization of volunteers and the development of a global initiative as a grassroots movement taught important lessons on media outreach and selection of leaders for a cancer awareness campaign.
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