Health

Cancer is still a taboo in many parts of the world. Especially in Asia, where there is an urgent need to raise awareness of the disease and to support people cannot afford to get the right treatment. For 10 years now, EMPOWERED – The Cancer Advocacy Society of Malaysia, has acted on these critical issues, helping and enlightening communities who are suffering from the lack of information and hope. In this interview with Wallance Cheong, project executive at EMPOWERED, a new member of our Horyou platform, shares the values and missions of this organization with our community.

Empowered team during Colorectal Cancer Awareness, Screening & Treatment Project

When was Empowered founded?

EMPOWERED was officially registered with the Registrar of Societies Malaysia in 2008 and is governed by an Executive Committee Board consisting of elected volunteers. It was founded by Dr. Christina Ng, a Consultant Medical Oncologist and our program started from year 2009 onwards. The organization is an ally of the poor who are afflicted with cancer.  EMPOWERED is committed to helping them to cope with cancer and life through the society’s many structured and personalized programs, and we bring these programs right into their homes. Our mission is to save lives, to prevent cancer and eliminate suffering amongst the poor.

Empowered’s Milestones

Your organization raises awareness of a condition that is considered taboo by many. How do you set the tone to discuss it with the general public?

The cancer awareness level, particularly in Asia, remains a challenge and some may perceive cancer as a taboo to be discussed. All the myths and misunderstandings about cancer are generally due to the lack of the right education and knowledge. Thus, we constantly raise public awareness and advocacy through our tailored campaigns and projects, educational exhibitions and talks, workshops etc. Furthermore, in accordance with society’s vision and mission, we actually bring these programs and supports right into the underprivileged communities home. We enable our EMPOWERED professionals to touch the hearts of the public.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness, Screening & Treatment Project

Do you have any plans and projects for 2018 that you would like to share?

We will carry out our annual signature campaign – Colorectal Cancer Awareness, Screening and Treatment Project (CCASTP) 2018. However, unlike previous practice, we would like to heighten public awareness level of cancer issues by organizing a Charity Run. The run is planned to be carried out in November, in conjunction with EMPOWERED’s 10th Anniversary and the Lung Cancer Month, and we are expecting about 2,000 people to join us.

You are a new organization in our Community. Tell us about your expectations and projects for Horyou.

We understand Horyou is an esteemed, established platform and action-oriented social network for the social good; EMPOWERED is honoured to join as a member of this big family. As time goes by, we expect to reach a wider public, raise public awareness and advocacy of cancer and generate funding and support for the sustainability of EMPOWERED’s projects with the aid of Horyou. 

The host city of SIGEF 2018 is a good example of technology used to improve citizens lives. In a series of articles, Horyou blog will showcase some of the many positive aspects of the city!

Singapore

In Singapore, a local app gives you personalized health statistics and tips to improve your habits, while another allows you to pay your parking ticket with your smartphone. These apps are all developed and proposed by the Singaporean government to improve the quality of life of its citizens.

Singapore is often pointed at as one of the smartest cities on the planet. Last year, its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasized the goal of becoming the world first smart city-state in the years to come. «We live in a time were cities are getting more and more prominence», says Manuel Tarin, chairman of the Smart City Business Institute.

How to develop a concerted, efficient strategy for a city of 5,6 million residents? It seems that the government has got the challenge right. Apart from the notorious effort of using big data to provide personalized services to the population, the city has also developed technologies that look like they were drawn from a sci-fi movie.

Take health, for instance. Singapore provides a service called TeleHealth, which allows elderly people to be monitored and rehabilitated online, without having to leave their houses. Any citizen can go to a website and access their private medical record and useful health information. When it comes to mobility, the city has a research lab to self-drive vehicles and plans to develop a real-time public transportation app, whereby people can choose routes according to their needs and get the most efficient transportation as quickly as possible.

Since 2014, when the Prime Minister launched the Smart Nation Initiative, Singapore has set dozens of landmarks, supported by stakeholders in the private sector, academia and civil society. Above all the innovation involved, the main goal of the city is to provide a better quality of life to its people, which is why technology is only a means, not the goal. As the Minister in charge of the Smart Nation initiative, Vivian Balakrishnan, said in a recent interview, that way no one will be left behind: «The real challenge is to commoditize the technology so that the new middle class can arise. Using and enjoying the fruits of this technology, that’s really what this challenge should be», she pointed.

Professor Steven MacGregor is a social innovator who has been teaching, researching and publishing about unorthodox topics such as personal sustainability and sustainable leadership. About a decade ago, he founded of The Leadership Academy of Barcelona of which he is the CEO, and for more than 15 years, he has been contending that companies should not only be money making machines. We are happy to feature Professor MacGregor as one of our Changemakers!

Part of the LAB team in Barcelona

When was the LAB founded?

The LAB was founded in 2007, when I was directing a research project on CSR and teaching on executive education programs at IESE Business School. The project was one of the first European funded efforts with a specific focus on CSR and innovation, while my teaching focused on the health and wellbeing of executives, which I viewed as personal sustainability. I felt my take on sustainability, as an aggregate of both these areas, was unique enough to take the plunge and start a company. The defining thought for me at the time was that sustainable companies couldn’t be built on people who weren’t sustainable themselves. Essentially, it’s about bringing a more human approach to business.

What does sustainable leadership stand for and why did The LAB start to develop projects and training in this area of expertise?

Most of what we’ve done in the past 10 years has been centered on the health, well-being and performance of people at work. We’ve had aspects including mindfulness, fitness, nutrition, and sleep coaching in our programs during that time. Of course, we need to manage and lead ourselves better before we can lead others. We train people to be inspiring, energetic and engaging leaders who get the best out of their people. I think that many have forgotten the simple fact that leadership is about others. Considering our basic human needs is an effective way of doing that.

Can you present some of societyLAB’s current projects?

Most of our engagements tend to come in the healthLAB and designLAB. Societal issues are integrated within these projects, for example in areas such as talent management, client experience and workspace design; but scaling up societyLAB is a big objective this year. Our idea is to focus on the area of societal wellbeing. One specific idea that we’re pursuing is using behaviour change tools to nudge peoples’ behaviour in areas such as alcohol consumption.

Steven MacGregor

What are your goals for 2018?

Using more sophisticated behaviour change tools is something we’ve been looking at for several years. These tools represent cutting-edge machine learning and algorithm development and will allow us greater insight into what works in the classroom and how we can better design our work and home environments to be happier and healthier. We make the case for wellbeing at work to be a more strategic concern. More generally, we simply want to keep having an impact on peoples’ lives.

Do you believe companies are now convinced that CSR can make both social impact and profits? How do you evaluate the current state of corporate involvement with environmental and social issues?

Most of the leading companies are now convinced yes, though they may not call it CSR. There is a deeper awareness of the contract that business has with society. How that manifests itself changes from company to company. In general, organizations are realizing the key role they play in peoples’ lives; and by engaging with them more closely – be they employees, customers or the wider community -, they know they will add value to the business in the long term and protect themselves (as much as possible) from the dangers of disruption.

Horyou is the social network for social good. What is the role of the internet and social media in influencing our companies to be more sustainable and socially conscious?

Transparency and talent. Companies can no longer get away with fancy words that are not matched by deeds. The younger generation is automatically attuned to social good in a way probably never seen before and they will hold enterprises accountable to a new way of doing business, if not directly, then certainly with how they choose to spend their talents. Even the biggest and brightest companies can no longer count on brand prestige or history to attract the best talent. People want to invest their time in something bigger than themselves.

Changemakers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG8 – Decent work and economic growth.

SDG#6 is an inspiration for Water Energy and Sanitation for Development (WESDE), an active member of our Horyou community. With the aim to fill the gap left by civil society organizations in terms of Health and Environment Education and Integrated Water Resources Management in Cameroon, WESDE faces security, infrastructure and funding challenges to bring development to urban and rural populations in the far North region of the country. Interview with Marie Louise Kongne, WESDE National Coordinator.

WESDE team acting in Cameroon

What are WESDE’s main goals?

While improving significantly the sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions of disadvantaged populations, we aim to reduce the percentage of the population that does not have sustainable access to a drinking water supply. We also want to train and educate people to sustainable management of water resources and the protection of the environment, trying to reverse the current trend of loss of environmental resources. In order to do so, we seek to cooperate with national and international organizations, develop and maintain partnership, exchange and learning relationships. Last but not least, one of our objectives is to accompany the community in the fight against HIV / AIDS in order to stop its spread and reverse the current trend.

Tell us about your main achievements in 2017 and your plans for 2018

In 2017, we helped to raise awareness on education and training of 125 community health workers to work closely with families in 9 health areas on 12 main themes. In total, more than 43,000 households were visited. We also had an active participation in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) coordination meetings of the far North region under the co-lead of UNICEF and the far North Regional Delegation of Water and Energy and, as a Partner of Global Water Partnership (GWP) Central Africa, we contributed to the WASH resilience project in the Mayo Tsanaga sub-basin. In 2018, we aim to implement the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach in 150 villages of 3 pilot health areas as part of the support of the government to improve sanitation conditions in rural areas.

What main challenges do you face in your work?

We have no appropriate vehicles, as we need 4X4 vehicles to reach many areas. The self-financing mechanism is still very weak and there is not a long-term program, which could be at least 3-year renewable. Also, we develop our activities in a context of high insecurity (by Boko Haram)

Your work is closely connected with the SDG#6. In your point of view, how important is it to have a global agenda for water and sanitation?

In comparison with Drinking Water Supply, sanitation has often fallen behind government and donor concerns; however, this situation is moving in the right direction as sectorial strategies are increasingly putting sanitation at the top of the agenda. Recent studies have shown the importance of sanitation for improving health, promoting social development and protecting the environment. It has also been shown that Sanitation interventions are particularly effective in terms of cost reduction if we judge the increase in productivity that they induce and the decrease in the diseases and deaths that they allow. With this in mind, in the framework of the International Year of Sanitation (AIA) by the United Nations in 2008, the African continent, with the support of the African Ministerial Council for Water and Sanitation (AWCOW) organized the AfricaSan conference in Durban in 2008. This regional conference culminated in the ambitious eThekwini ministerial statement, stressing the importance of leadership in sanitation and recommending that 0.5% of GDP must be spent on sanitation.

The 6th United Nation Sustainable Development Goal is about providing clean and safe access to the most precious liquid on earth for all.

Water and Sanitation for all. Photo: UNDP Philippines

Two years ago, a major environmental disaster struck Brazil – the liquid waste reservoir of the mining company Samarco burst, wiping out a village, killing 11 people and poisoning the waters of the Rio Doce, a water source that supplies two Brazilian states. The riverside population and fishermen have been facing difficult times since. The water is still unsafe to drink, and the iron contamination has exterminated the local fauna. Scientists predict it would take 100 years for the river to fully recover from the catastrophe. And what of the fundamental right to a safe source of water? The question remains unanswered and it’s an everyday struggle for all communities to exercise their right to satisfy this basic need.

The 6th UN Sustainable Development Goal aims to provide access to safe water and sanitation and sound management of freshwater ecosystems for all by 2030. Both are essential to human health, as well as to environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.

The UNDP reports that over 90 per cent of the world’s population uses improved drinking water sources and over two-thirds use improved sanitation facilities. Yet, most rural areas in underdeveloped countries have to cope with the lack of both, and the resulting bad health consequences. «Achieving universal access to basic sanitation and ending the unsafe practice of open defecation will require substantial acceleration of progress», says the report published in 2017.

A fourth of global population lives in countries with water stress, meaning they are vulnerable to future water scarcity by not having enough renewable sources. Countries in Northern Africa and Western Asia already face severe water stress. This is a matter of public policy; however, the participation of other actors, including organizations and local communities, is key to effective water and sanitation management.

WESDE trains health agents to act within communities

Within our Horyou community, the organization WESDE – Water, Energy and Sanitation for Development is very active in providing integrated water resources management, sanitation and health education in Cameroon. WESDE acts in both rural and urban areas, supporting the most vulnerable populations with information and resources for development.

Another member of the Horyou platform, EAA Burundi, created in 1988, is active in more than 35 African countries, as well as in Israel. It helps supply drinking water, using innovative solutions like dry latrines and simplified sewer networks, while supporting the communities through agricultural, financial and development projects.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote water and sanitation in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

UN End Hunger goal is to achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Horyou’s new series is about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Every week, Horyou blog will publish an article about one goal, highlighting projects and actions that have been supporting its implementation.

Children under 5 are one of the most hunger vulnerable groups

One in ten people on our planet is undernourished. In rough numbers, they are 793 million, and one-fifth of them are children under 5 years of age. By contrast, 41 million children under 5 worldwide are affected by overweight and obesity – that’s 6% of children population. The numbers are shocking, yet the situation has improved in the 21st century – efforts to combat hunger and malnutrition have advanced significantly since 2000. Ending hunger, food insecurity for all, however, will require continued and focused efforts, especially in Asia and Africa.

Is there a way to improve both scenarios?

Horyou volunteer serving food at “The Meal”

The answer, according to the UNDP, lies in more investments in agriculture, including government spending and aid. It is in funding small-scale agriculture and sustainable food production systems, as well as making an effort to maintain the genetic diversity of plants and animals, both crucial for agriculture and food production. As of February 2017, 20 percent of local animal breeds were classified as at risk, according to data gathered in 128 countries. It’s all connected – global warming affects crops, animal breeds and food prices -, causing insecurity, civil unrest and wars. In 2016, 21 countries experienced high or moderately high domestic prices, relative to their historic levels, for one or more staple cereal food commodities. Thirteen of those countries were in sub-Saharan Africa. The main causes of high prices were declines in domestic output, currency depreciation, and insecurity.

Some governments have invested in long-term agricultural subsidies programs, according to the UNDP. It’s not enough. We, as a society, can act, either by supporting organizations which foster diverse and sustainable agriculture, participate in educational projects to promote healthy and responsible food consumption or spread the word about reducing waste.

On our Horyou platform, you can support projects like The Meal, which organizes festive and healthy meals for people who can’t afford good food in several countries – the last edition took place in 54 consecutive cities around the world! Or SOS Faim Luxembourg, an NGO which works in African rural areas to promote family farming and microfinance. The Green Bronx Machine, based in the US, uses education and school farming to teach kids about the importance of healthy eating habits and local food systems.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps fight hunger in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

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Cancer is still a taboo in many parts of the world. Especially in Asia, where there is an urgent need to raise awareness of...