The distinction recognises and celebrates outstanding efforts that contribute to advancing cancer care and control. The 2021 Award winners were announced at the close of the first-ever virtual Summit.
Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, CEO of The Max Foundation, received the Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Control Award in the Civil Society category.
Ms Garcia-Gonzalez co-founded The Max Foundation in 1997 in honour of her stepson, Max, who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) at the age of 14 and lived on until the age of 17. The organisation is dedicated to increasing access to treatment, care and support for people living with cancer around the world.
Ms Garcia-Gonzalez has made tremendous contributions over the last 25 years to accelerate health equity in cancer care across the globe. Her visionary leadership has brought access to high-impact medicines and treatment, care and support to thousands of cancer patients living in low- and middle-income countries.
The organisation serves over 36,000 patients in more than 70 low- and middle-income countries. This work is carried out in partnership with a global network of more than 500 physicians, 200 hospitals and medical institutions, as well as several local NGOs and patient associations.
“For 25 years now, The Max Foundation has worked tirelessly to develop all necessary systems to treat cancer in just about every corner of the world in a safe, equitable manner. I thank the UICC and its judges for this amazing recognition that allows my team and I to continue acting as a voice for the forgotten patients.”
– Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, CEO of The Max Foundation, recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Control Award in the Civil Society category.
The Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Control Award in the Policy-makers category was given to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, a country that has often been cited by the global health community as an example of what can be achieved in cancer control with limited resources, recently enacting a five-year National Cancer Control Plan.
In 2011, Rwanda became the first African nation to implement a national human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to prevent cervical cancer. In 2013 Rwanda implemented a Screen, Notify, See, and Treat cervical cancer screening programme for women aged 35-45 (30-50 for women living with HIV), allowing to detect and treat the cancer earlier. Rwanda has made progress with Hepatitis B vaccine, that helps to prevent liver cancer.
Over the past decade, cancer patients have received chemotherapy at Butaro Cancer Center. And while there are fewer than 4% of the world’s radiotherapy centres on the entire continent of Africa, half of which are located in only four countries north of the Sahara, in early 2020 Rwanda inaugurated an up-to-date cancer centre equipped with radiotherapy.
“A cancer diagnosis is frightening in any setting and if there are no accessible treatment options where you live, there is also a sense of hopelessness. But there is a lot a country can do to control cancer, no matter its income level. I thank the UICC and the judging panel for recognising the efforts that Rwanda has made to treat and prevent cancer.”
– President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Control Award in the Policy-maker category.
The two other short-listed nominees in the Civil Society Category were Dr Maira Caleffi, Breast surgeon and founder of FEMAMA, the Brazilian Federation of Philanthropic Institutions for Breast Health Support and Advocacy, which has been instrumental in lobbying for the passage of key legislation in Brazil to reduce the high rates of mortality in the region; and Dr Paul Farmer, Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of Partners in Health, an international non-profit organisation that, since 1987, has provided direct health care services and undertaken research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty.
The two other shortlisted nominees in the Policy-maker Category were US President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau to brain cancer, founded the Biden Cancer Initiative and, as President, launched the Cancer Moonshot Initiative; and Minister Greg Hunt, the Australian Minister for Health and Aged Care, who has supported multiple key actions in research and policy implementation towards the elimination of cervical cancer and overseen the first-ever country shift to cervical screening based on HPV testing, which in combination with vaccination and cervical cancer treatment puts Australia on a path to eliminating cervical cancer by 2035.
UICC inaugurated its Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Control Awards at the 2019 World Cancer Leaders' Summit in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, recognising the achievements of Dr Tabaré Vázquez, former President of Uruguay. This year, UICC expanded the awards to include a category for individuals working at civil society organisations.