RESEARCH AND FACT FINDING
Before speaking with elected representatives or members of your health ministry it may be helpful to seek answers to the following questions if they are available:
Do you know how many women in your region / country are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer each year and how many women die from MBC each year?
Do you know how much money is spent on breast cancer services in your region / country and what percentage of the national expenditure on healthcare is targeted to metastatic breast cancer services?
Are there national guidelines for standards of care for breast cancer including MBC?
Are there specialist breast cancer clinics in your country/region? How many? Can women with metastatic breast cancer receive treatment in these facilities?
Are there specialist breast cancer surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and breast cancer nurses in your country?
Does the national health service cover payment for all aspects of metastatic breast cancer care, including chemotherapy and prescription drugs?
Does your national health service provide psycho-social support for women with MBC and their families?
Does your national health services provide home health care for women with MBC?
Is there equal access for all women in your country to quality breast cancer care regardless of religion, social class, and income?
Are there laws in your country to protect women diagnosed with breast cancer or metastatic breast cancer from discrimination in the work-place, and in financial matters such as applying for mortgages or insurance?
DECIDE WHO CAN IMPACT YOUR ISSUE, this varies from country to country but includes the following:
Health ministers, health ministry officials
Political leaders and parliamentarians
Regional and local health departments
Health Technology Assessment (HTA) bodies
Academic and research institutions
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH POLICY-MAKERS
Remember when first contacting politicians that it is your right as a citizen to contact them and it is an important part of their work to represent you. The local/national organisation you represent should be legally established and registered in your country. This will give you credibility when making an appointment.
Cold-calling: Getting past the gatekeeper can be a challenge in order to get an appointment but can frequently be done by stating your cause on behalf of women with MBC - almost everyone knows someone who has had breast cancer.
You may need to speak to a staff member or “gatekeeper” to state your case. Remember the following:
Be prepared! When you do speak to the policy maker directly, either by phone or a personal appointment remember their time is limited:
As you continue to build relationships:
CHECK LIST FOR MEETING WITH PARLIAMENTARIANS OR HEALTH MINISTRY OFFICIALS
What will you ask for? What is the specific action you want the lawmaker to take?
Did you pack your fact-sheet (with your contact information on it) and any backup (i.e., newspaper article, report, photos, etc.)?
Are you ready to refute opposition arguments?
Are you ready to “Start where they are, not where you are”?
Do you have a personal story to share that will make your case more convincing?
Do you have a couple of questions that you want to ask?
Is there a conference or upcoming event to which you can invite the lawmaker?
Did you ask for a specific action from the policymaker/lawmaker?
What did the policymaker/lawmaker say/promise/question/dispute/request?
Why does the policymaker/lawmaker support/oppose/have no position on what you requested?
Make a note of:
Do you owe the lawmaker any additional information?
Did you send a follow-up letter, e-mail, or note?