Assam Cancer Care Foundation observes World Cancer Day
Various activities were organised to generate awareness among the people of Guwahati about the importance of the day, the magnitude of cancer in the community and prevention measures
Guwahati: “The nerve centre of Assam’s economy and polity, and its largest urban metropolis”
World Cancer Day is marked on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment. World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008.
Guwahati(Pragjyotishpura in ancient Assam, Gauhati in the colonial era) is the largest city in the Indian state of Assam and also the largest urban area in Northeast India. Guwahati city is the centre of all major initiatives in Assam and lays the seed for driving macro policy change in Assam. With a sprawling population of 10 lakh, Guwahati is at the crux of public activities and setting trends for the state. With the capital within the city, it is the nucleus of international events, state conferences and public conclaves. Further, it is a hub of institutions and colleges with a rich cultural diversity of students from different backgrounds and communities.
OBJECTIVEThe main objective of the activities organised by Assam Cancer Care Foundation (ACCF) to celebrate World Cancer Day was to generate awareness among the people of Guwahati about the importance of the day, the magnitude of the problem in their community and prevention measures. The activity was aimed at making the participants more than just receivers of information but participants in furthering it. The three activities, namely, the ‘Pledge for Action’, poster-making competition and radio interview were aimed at making students and the public active members of an anti-tobacco community. The team saw this participation as a necessary next step after awareness, wherein the community takes a personal and a public pledge to work against cancer and tobacco. The engagement of students and common people brings with it a sensibility to drive change.
Assam Cancer Care Foundation marked World Cancer Day on February 4 through a plethora of activities to reach out to the local public in Guwahati city. The events were conducted on the theme ‘IAmAndIWill’.
- Pledge to Action
The central idea of the ‘Pledge to Action’ was to initiate a cancer awareness intervention in public places of the city and make people undertake a pledge towards cancer care. It included putting up standees and photo-ops across nine major public places in Guwahati. The photo-op event included people posing against the backdrop of standees, pledging to work against cancer and signing on a pledge sticker to work personally towards creating a cancer-free world by choosing any one of the below:
- Spread the word
- Participate in activities
- Inspire action among others
- Become more aware
- Speak up
Further, they were given a pamphlet informing them about the nuances of cancer care and processes towards early detection and screening. The event was organised in the following places:
- Central Mall, Ganeshguri
- KFC, Lachit Nagar
- Dona Planet, GS Road
- Vishal Mega Mart, Ganeshguri
- B Baruah Cancer Hospital, Sarabhati
- GMCH, Dispur
- Vishal Mega Mart, Paltan Bazar
- Food Villa, Pan Bazar
- Roodraksh Mall, Bhangagarh
The poster-making competition was focused on making youth and society aware about early cancer detection and recovery. It was decided that NSS, in collaboration with Assam Cancer Foundation, will observe World Cancer Day on February 4, 2019, in educational institutions where students can depict their talent and views on cancer through poster making. The theme of the competition was ‘I am & I will’. The posters were then used for the Cancer Walkathon on February 17, 2019, at Guwahati.
The following colleges participated:
|1||DK Girls College - Mirza College||12||Pandu College|
|2||Dakshin Kamrup College||13||Pragjyotish College|
|3||Dispur College||14||SB Deorah College|
|4||Narengi Anchalik College||15||Hiteshwar Saikia College|
|5||B Baruah College||16||Handique Girls College|
|6||Asian Institute of Nursing||17||West Guwahati Commerce College|
|7||Beltola College||18||LCB College|
|8||KC Das Commerce College||19||RG Baruah College|
|9||Guwahati Commerce College||20||Don Bosco University|
|10||Arya Vidyapith College||21||KRB Girls College|
|11||Arya Vidyapeeth College||22||Guwahati College|
- Radio Interview of cancer survivors and doctors
Radio interviews aimed at awareness building through stories in the voices of survivors themselves: Live radio bytes were broadcasted to sensitise listeners through first-hand stories of survivors and doctors. Radio being a medium of the common masses was chosen for its reach and instant connect with the local public. The survivors were chosen from the Patient Advisory Group network and their programme was aired on World Cancer Day from 8:30am to 12pm. Dr Ashok Das from Dr B Barooah Cancer Institute, Guwahati, spoke on the rising incidence of cancer and the preventive measures for the same. ACCF collaborated with Radio Mirchi 95FM for the same.
ACCF, for the first time, collaborated with NewsLive for a World Cancer Day/ACCF pop-up icon. The icon was screened for four days starting from February 1-4 in the bottom-right corner of the screen. The icon displayed World Cancer Day and rotated to displaying Assam Cancer Care Foundation's logo after every 10 seconds. It was directed at grabbing the attention of the masses through the leading news channel of the Northeast.
The awareness efforts on World Cancer Day was taken very positively by the people who were made aware of the scale of and preventive efforts for the disease. Such an effort was the first-of-its kind across the city and led to unparalleled participation from various stakeholders.
- 3,000+ informative leaflets on common cancers were distributed by ACCF volunteers
- 2,500+ people signed a pledge to take personal action on cancer control
- Counselling was done for the general public about various risk factors, symptoms and preventive measures of cancer by the ACCF team
- 200 students participated across 22 colleges in the poster competition
- Radio Interview of cancer survivors and doctor aired for 3+ hours
- 96+ hours of pop-up icon flash in NewsLive's channel for four days
- Generated 60+ media publications
- Getting permission from the authorities of all the places which were involved in the event: Since they were spread out across the city, physical permission had to be converted into official intimation emails and then the locations finalised.
- Finalising the creatives for the whole event with their respective changes took brainstorming: Since target numbers were very high, the team wanted to make sure it had the respective confirmations and there was no wastage of resources.
- Getting the attention of the crowd on a Monday when malls and public places are not crowded: The team set out to create a viral #IAMANDIWILL-#BEAT CANCER campaign that trended across social media platforms. Another challenge was for people to upload their pictures on their handles and trust the team with their names and numbers.
- Communication to colleges about the poster competition: The team decided to call all the colleges to provide information about the competition.
- Delivery of the material to the colleges on Sunday was not easy as it was difficult to coordinate with college authorities.
- Planning of distribution, follow-up and proper communication to the colleges: The team also needs to mobilise its network because event management is all about networking. It has to to stay in close contact with the venues and vendors, and also need to keep former colleagues and volunteers close.
- Follow up with participants and volunteers after the event and conduct final feedback survey (through e-mail) to collect actionable advice by asking questions specific to each group.
- The key learnings are the factors that can be considered and the ones that cannot be foreseen: Among the factors to consider are traffic, commutation for the volunteers involved and how all materials that need to come back to office are followed up. The volunteers often misunderstood communication and struggled with talking to people and putting up the photo-op in strategic locations. There were also issues related to authorities of a few places even after permissions were taken. The public is weary of sharing personal information with volunteers.
- ACCF as an organisation could tap into events that are happening across the city (for eg, The International Asean Youth Conference), where well-known personalities and others could be made to take pledges. It could also collaborate with city institutions like Assam Police and reach out to more people through their respective networks.
Lastly, office staff could be made a participant in terms of reaching out to their own circle of friends. Not only would it be a great opportunity to make people aware of World Cancer Day but also of the nature of their own work under ACCF.
Shekhar, MD, ICICI Prudential, said, “The World Cancer Day is an important day for the people of Northeast where the problem of cancer is critical and urgent. ACCF’s efforts not only allows us to engage and become participants in the process but also makes us carriers of change in people’s attitudes. Efforts like this will make us active participants of the society and will help at least some of us undergo a process of change. I have pledged to serve towards cancer care from today.”
Shekhar Begu, Guwahati Commerce College, said, “As the principal of a college I see students getting into new addictions every day. We must keep doing activities like this so that their energy can be channelised into something constructive. Also, it is important for us to be able make them informed about their actions.”