As leaders in the development of cancer treatments, we have a societal responsibility to the worldwide healthcare system beyond the development of life-saving drugs. We have resources, knowledge and relationships we want to share with stakeholders with whom we can collaborate for a greater collective impact in cancer care.
It has been my privilege to participate in various multisectoral meetings hosted by UICC, including the World Cancer Congress and the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit. These meetings allow people and organizations committed to the fight against cancer to have access to each other. Conversations and ideas are sparked....people inspire one another. There is a strong sense of social movement, social responsibility that brings these leaders together. Policy-makers, presidents, prime ministers, medical leaders, patient advocacy groups, royalty, industry and many more are committed to a common goal: collectively ensuring that more patients get access to treatment in a sustainable way.
What I have experienced as a UICC partner is a phenomenal level of trust and the convergence of expertise across a broad stakeholder landscape.
For nearly fifty years, scholars have documented and analyzed the phenomenon of collective behavior during a natural disaster or crisis. It is something we have all seen, if not been a part of, to address critical individual, local and country needs. People are willing to contribute their time, knowledge, and money to solve an urgent issue. Crises inspire high levels of cooperation and collaboration.
UICC partners and the meetings I have attended evoke this kind of urgency for collaboration.
'UICC has created an environment for a collective response to cancer and elevated it to the deserved designation of a crisis.'
There is no question that cancer is a global crisis. The cancer burden rose to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million cancer deaths in 2018, according to the World Health Organization's cancer research agency1. WHO also estimates that approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries, where treatment capacities are limited and resources are scarce2. Yet, non-communicable diseases like cancer have often been deprioritized in the policy landscape. UICC and various multisectoral partnerships have been critical in elevating this high-stakes policy dialogue and bringing the concerted voices of global cancer advocates to the attention of policy makers.
One of the risks that can undermine the impact of global health programs is fragmentation and an inconsistent action agenda. What really strikes me about UICC is the organization’s ability to convene events, putting the problem that everyone is trying to solve at the center and bringing the right stakeholders to the table, including industry. They leverage people’s expertise rather than their titles or organizations, to focus on solving problems.
The impact of the convening role played by UICC is visible and tangible. UICC has been at the forefront of every global health summit, advocating for cancer and shaking up the international health community with powerful messages for action. As a result, we are seeing a shift toward issues such as sustainable access to cancer care, innovative financing models, healthcare system infrastructure and capabilities, and the global action framework to tackle cancer as a pressing societal problem.
Novartis Oncology brings broad experience in cancer -- scientists, analysts, awareness of global markets, and healthcare systems. Yet we learn every day from our partners, and from countries around the globe. We are excited about the potential to work with UICC to build out a strategy and are making good progress in Chile and Argentina. We hope to engage additional partners/ stakeholders who want to explore ways to evaluate and improve health systems in a sustainable way.