Dr Pablo Stürmer, Municipal Health Secretary, Porto Alegre, highlights the importance of a holistic approach.
Dr Stürmer is a family and community physician and current Secretary of the Municipal Health Department of Porto Alegre. In this interview he discusses the value of addressing cancer from a city perspective.
Q: If you had to define City Cancer Challenge in three words, what would they be?
Dr Stürmer: Well, I think they’d be collaboration, strength and excellence. Collaboration, because everyone involved in dealing with cancer is working together, focused on the same purpose. Strength is the result of that collaboration and of the quality of each provider, of each person or entity taking part in that action. And excellence results from the collaborative strength of professionals, services and public and private organizations whose common aim is to deal with cancer.
Q: What does C/Can mean for the city of Porto Alegre?
Dr Stürmer: City Cancer Challenge brings to Porto Alegre unification of the network, which means seeing Porto Alegre’s health as a whole. We shouldn’t fragment our approaches. We should view cancer as something to be confronted jointly so we can achieve the proper prevention and early diagnosis, meaning people can be treated at the right time. We’re bringing together the main oncology services, key public sector players and major social organizations involved with cancer assistance, so that we can boost the response, because we’re thinking jointly about how to achieve that result.
Q: What have been the main challenges identified/addressed within the initiative led by City Cancer Challenge in Porto Alegre?
Dr Stürmer: We’ve also identified the need to standardize anatomical/pathological assessments to ensure that patients get the most appropriate treatment for their diagnosis. When different reports are used for the same illness, it’s hard to follow a specific procedure, to determine the same treatment. We hope patients will benefit from standardization, because they’ll get better treatment earlier.
Q: What is the value of addressing the problem of cancer from a city perspective?
Dr Stürmer: The city is where things happen. The state may have an overview of towns and cities and the country of all states, but it’s the city that knows the main causes of the cancers affecting the people living there, which services are available to treat them, how it can organize its network and which partners can collaborate and provide better assistance. It’s the duty of the city to have that organization and response in place, and the city is the major beneficiary of strategies such as C/Can. As a city we have the responsibility to find an answer to dealing with cancer.
Q: Would you recommend other cities to join City Cancer Challenge? Why?
Dr Stürmer: The challenge of dealing with cancer doesn’t only concern Porto Alegre. Brazil faces a crisis of aging population, and cancer prevalence is now at levels that clearly make it a public health problem. The same has happened in other parts of the world, and I am sure that just as Porto Alegre is benefitting from C/Can to bring together all actors to provide the right response, so other municipalities also have fragmented services and organizations. If we can get other cities involved then they’ll get the same benefits.