The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is keenly aware of the monumental challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has created for cancer organisations, people living with cancer and their caregivers. UICC also recognises the innovative responses and adaptations that they have implemented to maintain progress in the fight against cancer.
To address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic around the world, UICC has strengthened support for its members and continues to work with partners such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international bodies.
UICC's Virtual Dialogues were launched in May 2020 to connect members, facilitate knowledge sharing and provide expert insights. Furthermore, UICC has joined the COVID-19 and Cancer Task Force to help assess the impact of COVID-19 on cancer outcomes and reinforce collaborations between infectious disease and cancer modellers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, UICC has been giving voice to its members and partners in their response to the unprecedented challenges they face. These stories highlight that while the pandemic is threatening the progress being made in the fight against cancer, it has also created the opportunity to address systemic weaknesses in many national health systems.
Organisations and healthcare workers are rallying across the globe to support patients, resume screenings and diagnostics, maintain awareness on the need for prevention and provide a safe environment for treatment. Volunteers have mobilised to deliver medication and even food to patients in need, or ensure transportation to care centres. The private sector is developing innovative technologies to reduce the time spent in care settings while maintaining quality of treatment. Digital technology is allowing doctors and research centres to collaborate and share knowledge at a global level, and accelerating the move towards greater patient-centred care.
Cancer organisations around the world struggle to maintain delivery of their life-saving services as a result of the pandemic, not only due to a drop in resources but also because of the necessary measures enacted to contain the spread of the coronavirus and fears of contagion on the part of patients.
Reports highlight exacerbated shortages in frontline staff, sometimes redirected to the COVID-19 response; interruptions and delays in prevention programmes, diagnostics and testing, clinical trials and research; difficulties in engaging in community outreach with restrictions on travel and social gathering; and greater barriers to accessing essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries.
Since May 2020, UICC has organised several Virtual Dialogues, providing insights into some of the major challenges facing the cancer community amidst the coronavirus pandemic and exploring possible responses and solutions to these challenges.