Advocacy agenda

Learn more about UICC’s global advocacy agenda, including our new Treatment for All Initiative, engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals and participation in the global fight against NCDs.

Cancer and SDGs

Cancer and the Sustainable Development Goals

Approximately 47 percent of cancer cases and 55 percent of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). By 2030, LMICs are expected to bear the brunt of the estimated 21.4 million new cancer cases per year, accounting for 60-70 percent of the global cancer burden.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer, constitute a major health and development challenge, impacting every pillar of sustainable development: economic growth, social equity and environmental protection. Reducing the NCD burden is a prerequisite for addressing social and economic inequity, stimulating economic growth and accelerating sustainable development.

In collaboration with the NCD Alliance, UICC has been involved in a six-year advocacy campaign to position NCDs in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted in September 2015. Three of the nine health targets in the SDGs focus on NCD-related issues including a target to “reduce by one third premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and wellbeing.”

Implementing cost-effective cancer interventions across the care continuum can strengthen the health system and increase a country’s capacity to respond to a range of diseases and population groups. It is thus critical to achieving not only SDG health targets, but also SDGs more broadly. We know that a healthy population relies on sustainable development but, equally, sustainable development relies on a healthy population.

Cancer and NCDs

Cancer and the Non-communicable Disease Agenda

In 2011 the cancer and NCD community made history with the adoption of the UN Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, which recognised NCDs as a global health and development priority and committed governments to take urgent action to address this growing crisis. Building on the momentum created by the Political Declaration and subsequent resolutions by the World Health Assembly, a new global framework for NCDs has emerged: 

The GMF and GAP include cancer-specific targets, actions and indicators in the areas of cancer planning and surveillance; vaccination for HPV and HBV against cervical and liver cancers; early detection and screening for breast, cervical, oral and colorectal cancers linked to timely treatment; access to essential medicines and technologies and; palliative care policies.

Despite these global commitments, we know that help is urgently needed to achieve sustainable services with equitable access for timely cancer diagnosis and early and potentially curative treatment.  This need was eloquently articulated in May 2015 at a side event co-hosted by UICC with Jordan, Malaysia, Spain, Zambia and Honduras at the 69th World Health Assembly.

Side Event on making the right investments for cancer control at the 69th WHA

We believe that it is critical to respond to this need by uniting as a cancer community to call for a comprehensive and robust World Health Assembly cancer resolution in 2017.

The resolution would articulate a clear framework for a health systems response for cancer, establishing the core disciplines and services for a holistic, impactful and scalable response, adapted to the local burden and aligned with national capacities.

It would bring together existing commitments from recent years that are highly relevant for cancer and NCDs more broadly, including palliative care, access to surgery and anaesthesia, essential medicines, patient-centred primary care and the life course and aging agenda. Click here to learn more about our campaign for an updated cancer resolution.

Cancer treatment and care

Multidisciplinary care forms a cornerstone for cancer control, and access to essential surgery, radiotherapy, and essential medicines - both curative and palliative - are critical components. Over the past few years, numerous publications have demonstrated the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of increasing access to safe, affordable and timely cancer treatment across all resource settings.


Surgery is an essential mode of cancer treatment and is required by over 80% of cancer patients globally, some multiple times. However the capacity to leverage the potential treatment and care benefits has been limited by poor investment in the skills, facilities, systems and adjunct services needed to support cancer surgery.

The 2015 Lancet Oncology Global Cancer Surgery Commission found that a failure to develop cancer surgery is projected to cost high-income countries 1.0-1.5% of the GDP by 2030, and 0.5-1.0% of GDP across LMICs. But, by integrating and strengthening cancer surgery’s role in national cancer control plans, countries could yield this benefit and save lives. Find out more about the global cancer surgery commission


On average, radiotherapy is recommended for 52% of cancer patients. Amongst low- and middle income countries (LMICs) this figure is likely to be higher due to the prevalence of cervical, head and neck, lung and breast cancers and late stage presentation, however investment in these facilities has been limited by the misconception that it is too complex or costly.

The Global Taskforce on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control, an initiative of the UICC board, set out to dispel this misconception by developing the financial case for improving radiotherapy access. Investing in scaling-up radiotherapy facilities to meet global demand by 2035 will cost around USD 184 billion (on average USD 5 million per centre), but this has the potential to return up to USD 278.1 billion and save 950,000 lives. Moreover, the upfront costs of developing a radiotherapy centre were found to be recouped after 10-15 years, after which point the facility contributes positively to the economy. Find out more about making the case for investing in radiotherapy.

Essential Medicines

The WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (EML) is an internationally recognisable set of selected medicines to help countries choose how to treat their priority health needs. In the 2015 EML update an additional 16 cancer medicines, bringing the total to 46 and enabling the treatment of 26 adult and 10 childhood cancers.  It now also includes a disease-based framework to review and select medicines for national and model EMLs. Find out more about the WHO Model EML

Last update: 
Thursday 22 June 2017
Declaration Target: 
Target 2
Measure cancer burden and impact of cancer plans in all countries
Target 3
Reduce exposure to cancer risk factors
Target 4
Universal coverage of the HPV and HBV vaccination
Target 5
Reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer
Target 6
Universal access to screening and early detection for cancer
Target 7
Improve access to service across the cancer care continuum