Pixabay | Urban city

Partnering with UICC to improve cancer care in cities

23 August 2017
© ICON Group | Mark Middleton

Mark Middleton, Chief Executive Officer
Icon Group

As CEO of a rapidly expanding healthcare company I’ve been spending time travelling and building international relationships. Recently I’ve had the privilege of discovering healthcare and business nuances in Asia, as well as experiencing Asia’s unique culture. A highlight of my travels has been a trip to Dalian, China from 27 – 29 June where I had the honour of attending the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC). This invitation was made possible thanks to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), which facilitate access to high-level meetings for partners. Of particular importance for myself and Icon Group was our participation in the AMNC Community Session on shaping the future of health and healthcare systems, through initiatives such as C/Can 2025: City Cancer Challenge.

C/Can 2025 is a collaborative effort between WEF, UICC and other partners. The premise of the session was to bring together senior decision makers, public health sector, academia and thought leaders to see what we can do to strengthen healthcare systems and response in cities.

In early 2017 Icon committed to becoming a Vanguard partner of UICC and a Founding partner of UICC’s C/Can 2025 initiative. This partnership cements our dedication to making a difference in cancer care, including being a part of C/Can 2025 and other international platforms such as World Cancer Day and the World Cancer Congress.

These platforms offer opportunities to meet peers who share a collective ambition to fight the cancer epidemic globally, which is something I am both inspired and passionate about.

The stats are sobering to say the least, with 8 million people dying from cancer per year and the cancer burden in China alone set to increase by 70% over the next two decades. It’s safe to say that the time for action is now if we want to have any chance of making a real difference to these current and predicated cancer patients. That is why initiatives like UICC’s C/Can 2025 are so important. As part of C/Can 2025 we have a responsibility to help increase access to vital cancer care in cities with a population greater than 1 million across the globe. Icon Group is passionate about providing the best possible cancer care to as many people as possible as close to home as possible, and we are dedicated to doing that beyond the shores of Australia.

Improving healthcare systems at a city-level through partnership

In Dalian, I was delighted to lead a discussion within the session on ‘How should an organisation that formed to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in large cities be governed?’ 60% of the world’s population will, by 2050, live in cities and those cities will face increasing pressure on already strained health systems. Asia is one of the many regions that will face this pressure.

It’s about changing the status quo, we need to find innovative solutions to improve the healthcare system because right now we aren’t equipped to meet the future patient load worldwide.

I learnt many valuable lessons from the session. Firstly, there must be some thought applied to who the key stakeholders are and how early they are introduced to the project in each individual city. The discussion clearly supported that all stakeholders needed to be present from the start when key decisions would be made. From the Icon perspective, as a private healthcare group, this is viewed as essential. Often the private sector is invited to participate at later stages in healthcare projects when major decisions have already been made. This is detrimental to the delivery of the desired outcome. Any collaboration to meet the challenge of NCDs must include a healthy relationship and real collaboration between both public and private healthcare sectors in order to have successful outcomes.

By the same token all stakeholders must be held accountable. This is particularly so for the private sector, with well-developed and transparent accountability structures, participation frameworks and key performance indicators being a vital part of the collaboration. Private sector involvement must also be welcomed and seen as crucial in meeting the considerable challenge ahead of us.

It became very clear that local government must take on the leadership role and would be supported by public and private healthcare sectors, academic institutions and business leaders. Importantly, we agreed all parties were collaborating in good faith for the greater good of tackling the NCD burden, which will continue to grow considerably over the next two decades. The term ‘deepen sense of community’ was raised throughout the discussion and this is crucial in terms of assembling the right stakeholders and governance in each city. In my experience as a leader, I know that people working together with positivity, cooperation and a common goal, will deliver results. Sitting in that room I felt confident each person was on the same page and ready to bring together their different backgrounds and expertise to address the issues on the table.

Ultimately one particular discussion point engaged everyone in the room – can we identify implementation models that have worked in other projects and how might they apply to the C/Can 2025: City Cancer Challenge? The group overwhelmingly felt that this is new ground and that the most effective implementation model of such a project was yet to be identified. This was a positive moment as the group could see the enormous challenge ahead and noted that there was much work to do.

Personally I look forward to working with key partners to find the answers to these important questions. The calibre of the people in the room was a wonderful place to start, I felt privileged to stand alongside like-minded people who want to make a difference.

C/Can 2025 is an enormous challenge but it’s one worth taking on, and with collaboration, knowledge and commitment to the greater good the conversation is well underway. I am excited for what’s ahead of us, and I know I’m in good company.

Read more on C/Can 2025: City Cancer Challenge at uicc.org/CCan2025.

About the author

There is no doubt Mark’s passion for cancer care is the reason he is leading one of Australia’s fastest growing healthcare companies. As Icon Group CEO, and a highly-regarded radiation therapist, Mark (@MarkMid12) knows all too well the impact of cancer on patients, family and society. His leadership style is simple, nurture and challenge a team to deliver exceptional cancer care and grow the business to deliver that care for as many people as possible, as close to home as possible.

Last update: 
Friday 7 June 2019