Advocacy Action — Strength in Numbers
A chorus of voices is needed to stop the drain on research funding
Advocacy: The act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea or policy; active support.
Now is the time for all of us to argue, plead, call, write and e-mail our members of Congress to fight for medical research funding. Our advocacy efforts are now more important than ever.
In December 2005, Congress approved the first decrease in the budget of the National Institutes of Health since 1970. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the cut drops the 2006 NIH budget to $28.6 billion, a decline of about 0.1 percent from 2005. Factoring in inflation, the 2006 budget is smaller than in 2003.
The outlook isn't better: President Bush's request for the 2007 budget, announced in February, would hold the NIH budget steady at $28.6 billion. Considering inflation, the budget would decline yet again.
These are significant cuts that will delay medical progress. But what can we, the common people, do to really make a difference?
1. GET EDUCATED
Learn about the key issues facing cancer research. Join a national organization that focuses on the broad issues related to cancer research funding. Or, join a group centered on the issues that are important to you. See the list at the bottom of this page for some ideas.
2. TELL A FRIEND
Most national organizations have an advocacy or public policy section of their websites. These webpages contain sample letters you can send to your congressman and senator. When you've finished sending your letter, you can copy a friend. It's an easy, but important, way to communicate priority issues for the cancer community to our government officials. Remember, together we can make a difference.
3. TAKE ACTION
Join hundreds of other advocates in Washington, D.C., to educate members of Congress about the importance of cancer research. To learn more about this important day, go to: www.pancan.org. There are scholarships available from many large national organizations to support your attendance.
Also schedule meetings with your congressman and senator while they're home during the summer. Educate them about cancer research and ask for their votes of support.
Finally, send e-mails to members of Congress highlighting the priorities you—a voter—have for cancer research. Need help with language? See www.pancan.org for sample language.
Elizabeth Thompson is the director of research and scientific affairs for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.