The theme of this year’s COSA Annual Scientific Meeting – Equitable cancer care for all – offered a rare and unfiltered view into the raft of inequities still experienced by so many people.
Attending the conference were Jo Cockwill, Deputy Chair of the VCCC Alliance Cancer Consumer Advisory Committee (CCAC), and Wamba Wamba woman Melissa Sheldon, consumer representative on our Health Equity Steering Group.
We asked Jo and Melissa for their reflections on the conference.
Inequity is everyone’s problem
Melissa was particularly pleased there was such a shift in focus towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
“As a collective we seem to be on the same path, understanding health equity is not the same as health equality.”
“My highlight was participating in the round table session with health professionals, Cancer Research, and policy makers in the COSA breakfast session: Understanding cancer survivorship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Effective and clear communication was also a major focus – it is a significant barrier to equitable care and trial participation for CALD communities, but it remains a problem at the point of care when health literacy assumptions are made.
“We heard an example of a patient who thought she was getting better because her doctors had told her she was ‘progressing’. This is horrifying.”
“Doctors must make sure patients understand what they are telling them,” Melissa said.
“The way health information and services are provided to us as patients can affect what we know and what we do about our health.”
Jo Cockwill said it was inspirational to hear and meet so many people who are so passionate about positive change in the equity space.
“There were so many messages about moving forward passionately repeated in presentations and discussion but none as outstanding as the importance of co-design,” she said.
“‘Inequity in cancer health outcomes is everyone’s problem.’ I love this quote.”
“It’s not someone else’s problem – you are playing a role in oppression whether you like it or not by either contributing to discrimination or challenging it.”
The key take-outs from COSA 2022