CML Life Africa – How we have grown…

I find it difficult to believe that yet another year has simply gone by. We are in the final month of 2015 and already events and meetings are scheduled in the fresh new diary that is sitting on my desk.
As with any other year we started of with many ideas, projects and tasks and can with great pride, and relief, say that we have made it!

A highlight on the calendar for Max Team Africa is the CML life Africa meeting. The fourth annual meeting of CML patient group leaders from Africa was held in Marrakech, Morocco during the month of November.

Danielle, Bahija and Cathy at Bahija’s home.

The hometown and country of our dear friend Bahija Goumi welcomed us with open arms as we settled into 3 days of groups giving feedback on their group’s status and activities, challenges and next areas of focus.  Speaking on behalf of myself  Danielle and Mame we can say with great confidence that the established groups in Africa have shown enormous growth in capacity and skills. To actually witness the evolution of the groups over the past years and to see how many groups are maturing is a very rewarding experience.

This year our program had the following focus topics.
1. Group Feedback – Where is my group currently and what are my challenges?
2. The Life Cycle of Groups – How do groups evolve and how we should differentiate between the tools (skills/resources) we need and our goals. This helps groups to visualize the next step.
3. Patient and healthcare worker training – The importance of involving different sectors in patient education as physicians and time is a very limited resource in Africa.
4. Proposal writing – NB!!! The essentials in writing a proposal was discussed, what you should focus on and what is required.
5. Corporate Governance  – What are the basic universal structures needed to successfully sustain a group.

CML Life Africa members also decided on a joint project for 2016 to create awareness on World CML Day.

New Challenges identified in our groups.
Perhaps it is wrong to call these “new” challenges and it might be labelled as the next phase…

1. As mentioned earlier many of the groups have shown great growth however several members are still working as individuals without much support from other patients. The leaders are also mostly employed full time in other areas therefore further growth can only occur if they enlist support.

2. Patient groups are still very focussed on patient education and support with few groups engaging on a higher level such as pharma or government to advocate for the improvement of healthcare systems.

3. Stigma is a concern that is always raised and not unique to Africa however groups keep on addressing this as a challenge they face on a daily basis.

4. Not every person is a natural born leader and some individuals my find it difficult to engage with stakeholders and to take the group to the next level.

*These are just some key issues

CML Life Africa with Frank from Novartis.

Moving Forward

Being aware of the unique challenges faced by each group we can now provide mentorship and guidance and allow for greater discourse amongst all the CML Life Group members to overcome the hurdles and take their various  groups to the next level, which ever that may be.  Every aspect mentioned above can be addressed and improved if members feel more confident in their mission and cause and if they feel equipped to do so. 

Working with each group in 2016 to see how and where we can offer guidance I am sure we will again by end of next year see huge improvements and changes, not only within the groups themselves but also in the quality of healthcare and treatment available to patients.

I wish to thank each and every Max team member for your input in our region. I am excited and optimistic about Africa and cannot wait to share the rest of our journey with you in 2016.

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