The focus of both awards is aligned with the Summit's theme:
"Driving innovation to advance cancer control equitably"
President Joe Biden
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Minister Greg Hunt
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President Paul Kagame
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The nominees in the civil society category must currently work in the broader global health and/or cancer community, whether in international organisations, academia, businesses or non-profits.
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UICC’s President-elect Prof. Jeff Dunn presents the shortlisted nominees for the 2021 Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Control Awards and explains why these global leaders in particular have been recognised for their inspiring work in cancer control.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was born on November 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In 1953, the Biden family moved to Delaware. President Biden graduated from the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School. At age 29, President Biden became one of the youngest people ever elected to the United States Senate. Just weeks after his Senate election, tragedy struck the Biden family when his wife Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed, and sons Hunter and Beau were critically injured, in an auto accident. Biden was sworn into the U.S. Senate at his sons’ hospital bedsides and began commuting from Wilmington to Washington every day, first by car, and then by train, to be with his family. He would continue to do so throughout his time in the Senate.
Biden married Jill Jacobs in 1977. A lifelong educator, Jill earned her doctorate in education and returned to teaching as an English professor at a community college in Virginia. The Bidens raised three children: Beau, Hunter, and Ashley. In 2015, Beau Biden passed away after battling brain cancer with the same integrity, courage, and strength he demonstrated every day of his life. Beau’s fight with cancer inspires the mission of President Biden’s life — ending cancer as we know it.
As a Senator from Delaware for 36 years, President Biden established himself as a leader in facing some of our nation’s most important domestic and international challenges. As Vice President, Biden continued his leadership on important issues facing the nation and represented our country abroad. Vice President Biden convened sessions of the President’s Cabinet, led interagency efforts, and worked with Congress in his fight to raise the living standards of middle-class Americans, reduce gun violence, address violence against women, and initiated the Cancer Moonshot Initiative.
Biden helped President Obama pass and then oversaw the implementation of the Recovery Act — the biggest economic recovery plan in the history of the nation and our biggest and strongest commitment to clean energy. President Obama and Vice President Biden also secured the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which reduced the number of uninsured Americans by 20 million by the time they left office and banned insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
He served as the point person for U.S. diplomacy throughout the Western Hemisphere, strengthened relationships with our allies both in Europe and the Asia-Pacific, and led the effort to bring 150,000 troops home from Iraq. In a ceremony at the White House, President Obama awarded Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction — the nation’s highest civilian honor.
After leaving the White House, the Bidens continued their efforts to expand opportunity for every American with the creation of the Biden Foundation, the Biden Cancer Initiative, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, and the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. On April 25, 2019, Biden announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Biden’s candidacy was built from the beginning around 3 pillars: the battle for the soul of our nation, the need to rebuild our middle class — the backbone of our country, and a call for unity, to act as One America. It was a message that would only gain more resonance in 2020 as we confronted a pandemic, an economic crisis, urgent calls for racial justice, and the existential threat of climate change.
The Hon. Greg Hunt MP has been Minister for Health since January 2017 and has been working to deliver a world class health system for Australia. In December 2020, Greg added responsibility for Aged Care to his portfolio, leading the Government’s response to the Aged Care Royal Commission.
Greg’s achievements include being named a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, being a runner up in the World Debating Championships and being selected as Australia’s debating captain. Greg was elected as the Federal Member for Flinders in 2001, and became Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs as a young MP in the Howard Government.
Greg was Shadow Minister in the Environment portfolio between 2007 and 2013, and was Minister for the Environment between September 2013 and July 2016. As Environment Minister, Greg counts his key achievements as establishing Australia’s successful Emissions Reduction Fund, developing the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and $1 billion Reef Fund. In 2016 he was selected as the inaugural Best Minister in the World recipient at the World Government Summit. Greg was appointed Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science in July 2016.
In January 2017, Greg was appointed Minister for Health and Sport. Greg has always had a strong connection with the medical profession. His mother was a nurse and his wife is a nurse. Greg will use his background in the Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio to build on Australia’s track record for medical breakthroughs, turning what is done in the laboratory into better healthcare for patients. Mental health is an issue that is particularly important to Greg. He wants to be a strong advocate for greater understanding and community awareness, and to ensure we have the necessary resources to help deal with this very important issue.
Minister Hunt has shown outstanding leadership as a policy maker, in Australia and globally, across the entire cancer journey from screening to survivorship and end of life care. In 2017, Australia became the first country to shift to cervical screening based on HPV testing, which in combination with vaccination and cervical cancer treatment puts Australia on a path to the elimination of cervical cancer by 2035. As Minister for Health during this transition, Minister Hunt was ultimately responsible for the implementation and has supported multiple key actions in research and policy implementation to support the elimination goal.
He champions equity of outcomes from cancer as shown by large government investment into areas such as brain cancer, rare cancers, and genomics. He champions new areas of treatment with establishment of the Sydney Comprehensive Children’s Cancer Centre, and the National Centre for Cellular Immunotherapy among others. He is a passionate advocate against smoking and for improving outcomes from lung cancer, establishing the recent enquiry into lung cancer screening in Australia (which recommended screening) and banning nicotine vaping without prescription. He is committed to putting the patient at the centre of cancer care and most recently has funded the development of a national Australian cancer plan.
Paul Kagame is the President of the Republic of Rwanda. He served as Chair of the AU from 2018 to 2019 and chaired the East African Community from 2018-2021. President Kagame continues to lead the AU Institutional reforms and serves as the AU Champion for Domestic Health Financing. Beginning in 1990, as commander of the forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), he led the struggle to liberate Rwanda. The RPF halted the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, which claimed over a million victims.
Under HE President Kagame’s leadership, the healthcare system in Rwanda has recognized the necessity of providing the critical screening, treatment and care services for cancer patients, as the burden of cancer continues to increase in the country and in the region. Despite the country’s low GDP per capita, Rwanda has search seek for partners and has invested in providing quality cancer care and treatment to its people – treatment that is often considered too expensive for low-income countries to provide. HE President Kagame has played an instrumental role in promoting access to diagnostics as well as in fostering the demand and supply of vaccines to screen for or prevent cancer. Rwanda’s achievement of 93% coverage for the HPV vaccine for girls is testament to his commitment to preventing suffering from cancer. It is also proof of his ability to coordinate various sectors within the country including the health, education, and security sectors, with the betterment of health at the center of the agenda.
HE President Kagame’s leadership led to the establishment of the first African cancer center located in a rural area to provide quality cancer care to those most likely to be underserved. The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence serves not only rural Rwandans seeking cancer treatment but also patients in neighboring countries who lack access to such care in their own countries. The government contributes to the salary of 75% of this center’s staff, thereby investing in the capacity of the center to provide quality cancer care.
HE President Kagame has also tirelessly supported the creation, growth and advancement of cancer care facilities in Rwanda.
He recently inaugurated the Rwanda Cancer Center at the Rwanda Military Hospital to increase access to the full spectrum of care for cancer, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Aligning with his vision of ownership and self-sufficiency, this facility will significantly reduce the costs of medical expatriation and allow patients to receive care close to their families. HE President Kagame continues to partner with various external institutions to further build Rwanda’s technical and financial capacity to provide care.
HE President Kagame’s vision is reflected in his work to provide accessible cancer care to all. Under his leadership, the ministry of health has worked to ensure that the health insurance reimburses for cancer care. This approach is critical to ensuring that the Rwandan population can access cancer services with a lower financial hardship.
A breast surgeon, academic, and activist, Maira Caleffi has worked tirelessly to improve breast health care for underserved women both in her native Brazil and globally for over 30 years. Dr Caleffi is Chief of the Breast Cancer Centre at the Moinhos de Vento Hospital and President of FEMAMA – the Brazilian Federation of Philanthropic Institutions for Breast Health Support and Advocacy.
Frustrated by the high rates of breast cancer mortality in her region, she founded IMAMA (Instituto da Mama do Rio Grande do Sul) in 1993 together with patients and health professionals, to provide education, physical and emotional rehabilitation to support breast cancer patients. In July 2006, she then founded FEMAMA, a national network of 74 patient organisations focused on advocating for early breast cancer diagnosis and adequate and equitable access to treatment. Under her leadership, FEMAMA was instrumental in lobbying for the passage of key legislation, including the national mammography law, the 60 days Law (maximum time from diagnosis to treatment) and 30 days Law for diagnosis, promoting a positive impact in cancer care in Brazil.
A former UICC Board Member, Dr Caleffi is currently the Chair of the Executive Committee of the City Cancer Challenge in Porto Alegre, Brazil. She also serves as a consultant for the WHO Global Breast Cancer Initiative. Dr Caleffi holds degrees in Pharmacy and Medicine from Guy’s Hospital in London, including Residencies in Gynaecology and Surgical Oncology. She received her PhD from the University of London and undertook postdoctoral studies in Molecular Biology Genetics and Cancer at Vanderbilt University, USA.
Since the onset of COVID-19, Dr Caleffi has worked as a strong advocate together with the entire FEMAMA'a network to re-establish routine screening and early detection programs in Brazil as more than 1 million women have delayed or cancelled their annual exams due to the pandemic.
Medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer has dedicated his life to improving health care for the world’s poorest people. He is Co-founder and Chief Strategist of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization 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. Dr. Farmer and his colleagues in the U.S. and abroad have pioneered novel community-based treatment strategies that demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor settings.
Dr. Farmer holds an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he is the Kolokotrones University Professor and the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School; he is also Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.
Dr. Farmer has written extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association, the Outstanding International Physician (Nathan Davis) Award from the American Medical Association, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and, with his PIH colleagues, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His most recent book is Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History.
For more than 20 years, Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer of The Max Foundation has been dedicated to improving the lives of cancer survivors around the world. A native of Argentina, Pat has a master’s degree from the University of Washington and a technical degree in nursing.
Pat is the co-founder of The Max Foundation, established in 1997 in honor of her step-son, Max. Max was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) at the age of 14. He survived until the age of 17, and his legacy lives on in the hearts of thousands of cancer survivors whose lives have been touched by the organization.
Under Pat’s direction since 2005, The Max Foundation is dedicated to accelerating health equity by increasing global access to treatment, care, and support for people living with cancer. The organization channels over 10 million doses of life-saving cancer treatment to patients each year in 72 low- and middle-income countries. The organization carries out its daily work in partnership with a global network of more than 500 physicians and 200 hospitals and medical institutions, as well as several local NGOs and patient associations.
Pat is an advisor to the CML Advocates Network, the International CML Foundation, and on the Board of the Partnership for Quality Medical Donations. As recognition, Pat has been honored with several awards including: the CEO Award from the Union for International Cancer Control; the distinguished Golden Tennis Shoe Award from United States Senator, Patty Murray; the first National Cancer Institute Global Cancer Medicine Humanitarian Award; and the inaugural Emerging Regions Support and Partnership (ERSAP) Prize by the International CML Foundation for her role in leading The Max Foundation, as well as her personal commitment to helping people around the world face cancer with dignity and hope.