60 Seconds with...Andrew Spiegel, GCCA

Monday, 6 October 2014

Each month we will be interviewing an IAPO member in six short questions. They will be featured in our newsletter and the website.

Our featured member of the month is Andrew Spiegel, the Executive Director of The Global Colon Cancer Association (GCCA). Andrew is an active member of IAPO and has participated in many IAPO events around the world. Andrew answered a few questions for us.

1. Describe your role at the GCCA in a sentence or two:

My role is to develop and implement a strategy to accomplish the GCCA’s mission to create a global unified voice for the more than six million people with colorectal cancer (CRC) and the tens of millions more who will get this most preventable disease. Nation by nation we will build patient groups, create awareness and access campaigns and advocate for the fast growing worldwide community suffering from the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

2. I do what I do because…

I am passionate about colorectal cancer because of the potential impact we can have for this underserved community. CRC is the most preventable major cancer through screening, yet most people don’t get screened because of access, awareness, embarrassment or a host of other reasons. Because of these issues, over 600,000 people needlessly die each year. It is the measurable positive impact we can have on humanity that motivates me each day.

3. Why does the GCCA exist?

In many communities around the world, there are advocates for most major diseases. This does not hold true for CRC. For years, people have not wanted to talk about “that” part of their bodies. As a result of this stigma, there has been no unified call for access, awareness or effective covered screening programs. The GCCA will bring together leaders from the CRC community where these barriers have been overcome to help ensure everyone around the globe has knowledge, access and support.

4. What is your biggest achievement as an organization in the past year? 

After our first year of learning and planning, we are excited to begin launching our first regional program: the GCCA’s Latin America Outreach Program. While we are at the beginning stages, our initial efforts are being graciously welcomed by the community as a recognized overdue need. Much of our investigative and field work has been successful as a result of contacts we have made at each of IAPO’s Latin American programs. Without these events, we would not be nearly as far along in furthering our mission in this community. 

5. What does patient-centred healthcare look like to you? 

For me, it means empowering people to be more informed and educated and ensuring everyone has access to high quality care. It’s about helping patients make informed decisions in consultation with their healthcare providers without interference from others. The patient voice must always be heard during any health policy decision-making.

6. What do you think is the key benefit of being involved with IAPO and a global alliance for patients?

There are countless benefits for NGOs from being a member of IAPO. I’ve attended many IAPO events around the globe and one of the greatest benefits is the ability to network with NGOs and stakeholders. As a global organization, there are few opportunities to meet so many high quality engaged health leaders. In addition, the content and communications from IAPO both live at events and in its distributions, are of the highest quality. We frequently use the tools created by the IAPO staff to accomplish grassroots goals. 

Find out more about the GCCA here.

If you're an IAPO member and would like to be featured in our '60 Seconds with...' series, please get in touch.