As I read the recently released Lancet article and call to action to increase access to healthcare services and implement policy changes in low and middle-income countries, I learned about the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries, or GTF.CCC. The Lancet calls the GTF.CCC “crucial” to reducing the global physical and economic burden of cancer. “Scaling up prevention and early diagnosis will be the most cost-effective ways of dealing with cancer in developing countries in the near future” (June 12, 2010, p. 2051).
Who will increase prevention and early diagnosis efforts? Very likely – nurses and community health workers. In fact, “quality care by nurses” and others is among the proposed strategies to impact cancer in low and middle-income countries. Training health professionals (and I’m inferring nurses are included in that broad stroke) is listed as an immediate strategy and call to action.
I became more excited as I read about the call to action. Until I looked at the GTF.CCC composition. Here’s how that process and conversation went:
Scanning the Global Task Force membership list. Oh, wow. Lots of passionate and powerful people there. MD, MD, PhD, MPH, Celebrity, Princess, MD, MD…Where’s the nurse?
Surely there’s a nurse on the Technical Advisory Committee….scanning, re-scanning. [scratches head] Reviews both lists again. [stunned] There’s not one nurse on this committee – focused on increasing access and preventive efforts in low and middle-income countries??
According to the World Health Organization’s 2009 World Health Statistics, there are over 17.6 million nurses worldwide – making nursing the largest global healthcare workforce by a large margin. Earlier this year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report indicating the underutilized and overlooked potential of nurses. And it’s happened again, on a global scale.
Perhaps the committee memberships have been updated since the published May and June 2010 dates. I hope so. If not, this committee should absolutely and immediately add a nurse to the mix. I can think of several nurses involved in international cancer care and large-scale, national policy changes. If nurses are a vital piece of the plan, and I’m pretty sure we are, nurses should be represented on the GTF.CCC.