Over the past three years, Argentina civil society patient groups have been an important priority for LAPA in collaboration with the Cámara Argentina de Especialidades Medicinales (CAEME) and the Federación Latinoamericana de la Industria Farmacéutica (FIFARMA). In 2019 and 2020, LAPA worked with a total of 50 leaders of patient organizations on topics such as how to generate evidence for effective advocacy and other training sessions designed to build the long-term capacity of these organizations in health public policy.
CAEME featured the importance of this work with an article published online in June 2021 (see https://www.caeme.org.ar/asociaciones-de-pacientes-por-que-son-fundamentales/).
In fact, throughout 2021 LAPA extended its commitment to Argentina by working with 71 patient advocacy leaders representing 64 organizations. The goal of the program this year was to increase knowledge exchange among groups about the highly fragmented Argentine health system, to identify critical routes for patient navigation to access services and medicines, to generate proposals for improvements in health policies, and to increase the understanding of how multidisciplinary approaches are best for implementing solutions.
Given the high level of commitment by advocacy leaders in Argentina, LAPA instituted an awards program and invited organizations to submit descriptions of advocacy-related projects they are currently implementing or would like to implement based on the learnings from the LAPA training sessions.
LAPA received 46 proposals and were able to provide Awards for Excellence in Advocacy to four groups and with three honorable mentions. On December 6, 2021 LAPA and CAEME presented these organizations with their awards and each winner was given the opportunity to talk about their projects:
- First place went to the Argentine Federation of Diabetes (FAD) who in partnership with several of its member organizations are implementing a program designed to expand and improve the mandatory medical benefits for diabetes in the PMO, which is the system of minimum benefits included in health insurance coverage by Obras Sociales. FAD members involved in the project are the Asociación Carcarañense de Diabetes (ACARDI), the Asociación de Diabéticos de San Nicolás, the Asociación de niños y adolescentes con Diabetes de Mendoza (ANADIM), Asociación Roquense del Diabético (ARODIA), Asociación de ayuda y difusión de la diabetes Villa Maria (ASADD), Diabetes es Vida (DIEVI), and the Asociación Regional de Ayuda al Diabético (FRADI).
- Second place was awarded to a collaboration of 4 cancer-related organizations to find solutions for patients with public health coverage in Buenos Aires province to improve access to their cancer medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic. The organizations involved are Fundación Donde Quiero Estar, Fundación Natalí Dafne Flexer, the Asociación Civil Sostén, and the Asociación Civil Geselina Llegaremos a Tiempo.
- Third place was awarded to AXV - Asociación Civil Adolescentes por La Vida and its Directors Sebastián Vázquez Montoto and Mariano Schettini for their HIV/AIDS youth education and prevention work, as well as programs for medicine and treatment access.
- Fourth place went to the Niemann Pick Civil Association of Argentina and its President Marcelo Jorge Minotti for the creation of a unified symptom tracking system called SUSSI by which patients with neurodegenerative diseases and/or their caregivers can have better oversight of their medicines, diagnosis, disease progression, and other factors that are easy to update and share with medical providers instantly.
- Finally, and last but not least, honorable mentions were given to: Life Free of CVA (stroke education, prevention, and management); to MACMA (breast cancer) for its community service work during the Covid-19 pandemic promoting cancer control and early detection in vulnerable neighborhoods; and to the Cuidar Association (diabetes in Buenos Aires).
For LAPA, it has been an honor to be able to work alongside such excellent advocacy leaders in Argentina so committed to working toward real improvements for the patients they represent and strengthening the Argentine health system. We look forward to implementing similar awards programs for advocacy projects and proposals in other countries as we continue to reach more and more patient organizations and their leaders throughout the region.