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This month's advocacy update includes important information on the adoption of the global NCD targets and indicators which took place at the WHO Global Monitoring Framework meeting, as well as the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer's review of 2012.
Adoption of global NCD targets and indicators heralds major step forward in the fight against cancer and other NCDs.
UN Member States have agreed the first ever comprehensive Global Monitoring Framework for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including cancer, at a three-day meeting held from 5-7 November at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
UICC and its partners in the NCD Alliance have been pushing for a comprehensive approach to the Global Monitoring Framework since discussions began immediately after the UN Summit on NCDs in September 2011. In recent months we scaled up our advocacy efforts and kept pressure on WHO and governments to ensure a comprehensive set of targets were agreed that balanced prevention, treatment and care and matched the scale and complexity of the global epidemic.
Assuring balance for NCDs
As part of this advocacy push, on 31 October, UICC organised a roundtable discussion in Geneva, Switzerland, co-hosted by the United States and Panama Missions to the United Nations. This was a uniquely global and multisectoral event with representatives from over 20 UN Missions, as well as representatives from the WHO, other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector. During this 90 minute discussion, participants had the opportunity to share views on the emerging Global Monitoring Framework. There was strong consensus around the table that the Global Monitoring Framework should embrace NCD targets and indicators beyond prevention, and recognise that we have a responsibility to ensure that the millions of individuals worldwide already living with NCDs have access to the treatment and care they need.
The Global Monitoring Framework for NCDs: advocacy “wins” and shortcomings
The nine voluntary global targets adopted cover prevention (tobacco, physical inactivity, alcohol, salt, raised blood pressure, and diabetes/obesity) and the health system response (availability of essential medicines and technologies, and counselling and drug therapy for the prevention of heart attack and stroke).
Cary Adams, Chair of the NCD Alliance and CEO of UICC said, “We are proud to witness the first set of global targets and indicators that signal a new era of accountability for the millions of people with NCDs worldwide. We commend WHO and Member States for agreeing a comprehensive set of targets that balance both prevention and treatment.”
In addition to the targets addressing risk factors for NCDs, UICC welcomes the adoption of indicators on availability of services important to cancer control such as cervical cancer screening and the indicator on morphine consumption as a measure of availability of palliative care. UICC was particularly pleased to see that Member States recognised the importance of cancer related infections by including targets for hepatitis B (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. There was some concern among Member States about the current cost of the HPV vaccine which led to agreement of an indicator at policy level, but as many Member States from the African region said, what is important at this stage is that it is being monitored.
Julie Torode, Deputy CEO and Director of Advocacy and Programmes at UICC said, “The price of the HPV vaccine has come down tremendously in the few years it has been available. The GAVI announcement to include the HPV vaccine in its portfolio of vaccines allows access to those countries with the highest burden to really address this issue. We do believe that this will bring the price of this vaccine down even further in the coming years, making it a cost effective solution for other countries wishing to save women from cervical cancer.”
One disappointment was that there was no breast cancer-screening indicator signed off by Member States despite passionate support from some regions. However, we are pleased that this has led to a commitment to address breast cancer screening in the Global Action Plan on NCDs.
Over the coming months, UICC and NCD Alliance partners will continue advocacy efforts to ensure that key issues like this not addressed in the Global Monitoring Framework, will be not be lost, but rather integrated into the Global Action Plan for NCDs 2013-2020.
Get involved in our global advocacy efforts
All of us in the UICC membership should be motivated by our governments’ willingness to set bold targets for NCDs – there was a true sense of wanting to do the best thing for the world’s population.
Please send a note to your government commending this strong stand and leadership. Offer your organisation’s help in achieving the voluntary targets at country level.
All member States have committed to putting NCD plans in place by the end of 2013.
Make sure you government knows that you are ready and willing to ensure Cancer Plans that are as robust as possible.
With these targets and indicators finalised, the focus will now turn to the 2013-2020 Global Action Plan on NCDs and its implementation, which is currently being drafted by WHO and Member States.
Send a letter to your Minister of Health encouraging them to integrate this new monitoring framework into the next Global NCD Action Plan 2013 -2020. You can download a template letter from the NCD Alliance website: http://www.ncdalliance.org/targets
It’s been a busy year for us at the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer since we commenced operation in February, the day before World Cancer Day.
We saw many of you at the World Cancer Congress and at our follow-up workshop at McGill University Law Faculty, where cancer control researchers, advocates and lawyers came together to share experiences on: law in cancer prevention: tobacco, alcohol, obesity and solaria; cancer prevention in the courts: cases in domestic courts and under international trade and investment treaties; cancer treatment and supportive care: legal rights and responsibilities; and the relationship between privacy law and cancer research.
We’ve been delighted to designate the Norwegian Cancer Society as our first regional collaborating centre. UICC’s vision is that over time we will have collaborating centres in all regions of the world, through which we cooperate and coordinate on the many legal issues that are common to cancer organisations globally. We’re looking forward to the launch of the collaborating centre and the European network of organisations interested in law-and-cancer issues in Oslo in March – more information to come.
With support from Cancer Council Australia and UICC’s fellowships programme, we are pleased to be welcoming our first international fellows in January – Mr Vuyile Dumisani Dlamini from Swaziland, and Ms Galina Samulenka from the Russian Federation.
In Australia, we’ve had the excitement of the Government’s win – and the tobacco industry’s defeat – in the High Court on our world-first plain tobacco packaging legislation. And we’ve launched our new book on legal issues in plain packaging.
Other things on our agenda for 2013: following developments in the ongoing international legal challenges to plain packaging; working with the International Agency for Research in Cancer to document barriers that overly restrictive privacy legislation pose for cancer research; continuing our work to enhance global access to opioid analgesics for the relief of cancer and other pain – in part a legal issue because of the way opioids are regulated as narcotic drugs; a new project on legal issues affecting cancer treatment and supportive care; and our ongoing work with UICC on the follow-up to the UN Political Declaration on NCDs.