As part of the 69th World Health Assembly, UICC held a side event titled ‘Are we making the right investments for cancer control? A global dialogue’.
An official side event of the WHA, it was co-hosted by the Ministries of Health of: Malaysia, Honduras, India, Jordan, Korea, Kuwait, Peru and Zambia.
Co-hosting NGOs were the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA), International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP) and the International Society of Radiology (ISR).
Moderated by Dr Richard Sullivan, Professor, Cancer and Global Health, King’s College London and Dr Christopher Wild, Director, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Dr Etienne Krug, Director, Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO - panellists were asked to highlight elements of their cancer control work - with a focus on the cancer planning process and policy work; Implementation efforts particularly around scale up of services for equitable access nationally and importantly financing for sustainability.
In setting the tone for the first part of the discussion, Dr Wild provided an overview of the IARC outputs supporting the 2025 agenda for cancer control and then called for strong leadership and creative partnerships to shape implementation that needs to be adapted to national needs.
Dr Peter Mwaba, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Zambia was the first to speak, highlight the country’s growing cancer burden and how they are trying to address this through initiatives such as a targeted plan on womens’ cancers.
Dr Francis Contreras, Vice-Minister of Health, Honduras spoke about the importance of engaging multiple stakeholders at national level to overcome silos and align efforts.
Jordan spoke about their challenges in the area of prevention using to tobacco control as an example. With an exceptionally high rate of the population who smoke, campaigns focusing on behavioural change have been a key focus.
Malaysia, as represtented by the General of Health, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, shared their experiences in their efforts around healthy lifestyle campaigns and HPV vaccination programmes.
Dr Isabel Saiz, Programme Coordinator, General Deputy Directorate of Quality and Cohesion, Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality from Spain emphasised their palliative care strategy, including how palliative care is now part of the common health portfolio in the country.
Speaking from the floor, Dr Tatiana Vidaurre, Chief of the National Institute of Neoplastic Diseases (INEN) emphasised the need for the involvement of all stakeholders in the cancer planning process, and highlighted that Peru had developed a new funding model to support the National Cancer "Hope"Plan that was launched in 2012.
Discussion then shifted to implementation and scale up of services, and the need for population-based approaches. Zambia emphasised how valuable international support is when initiating cancer work, with mention of their model for cervical cancer and their nurse led programme in the community and how this has helped the extension of this work to include breast cancer.
Malaysia built on this through sharing their experience in cervical cancer screening programmes and how they have implemented public private partnerships (PPPs) to help expand services.
Honduras have made great strides in health systems strengthening for treatment services and health workforce challenges, particularly in the area of childhood cancer.
Overall, panellists were bold and honest in outlining what their needs are and how the international community can help, including calling for an update of the existing WHA cancer resolution, last adopted in 2005. In closing the session, Richard Sullivan remarked that, “this would be an incredible first step in leveraging additional resources to meet cancer specific targets and needs, as articulated by today’s panellists.”