The incidence of cancer is increasing globally and WHO predictions are of a rapidly changing landscape with a projection that two thirds of cases will be from the developing world within the next two decades. The problem is further compounded by the fact that of the premature cancer deaths worldwide, two thirds occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the majority of which lack proper infrastructure and resources.
There is therefore a well-recognised need for action and promoting greater equity in these resource-limited settings.
Much also needs to be done in the developed world where numerous issues hamper the progress in cancer control. These range from rising cost of cancer care, geographic distribution of service issues, socioeconomic inequalities, in addition to the growing epidemic of obesity as a major cause for cancer. Other global issues to be addressed are the implementation of HPV and HBV vaccinations, cancer drug pricing, availability of healthcare, human resources and healthcare systems infrastructure.
Civil society must engage in addressing these issues.
UICC is the ideal organisation to convene the voice of civil society with its membership including diverse groups of organisations with a reach of over 150 countries. In addition, UICC has strategic alliances with other major stakeholders, namely the NCD Alliance, WHO, IARC and IAEA, which help integrate cancer control into the world health and developmental agenda.
The expansive reach, the impact and the great potential of UICC has been more apparent over the last six years, and as a member of the Board of Directors, I had many opportunities to witness the impact that our organisation has on global cancer control and to contribute to the development of the strategy and long-term goals for UICC. Being an integral part of two strategy planning meetings of the UICC has helped me contribute to the road map that the organisation will take over the next decade. As President, I will therefore be ideally suited to shape this vision and contribute along with the Board of Directors and the Geneva team towards this effort.
Personally, I have been engaged in the cause of cancer control at the national level in India as an oncologist, researcher and administrator and globally as a leader in head and neck cancers. These multiple roles place me at an advantage in understanding the intricacies of the problem, a profound understanding of the role that research science must play in cancer control, identify priority areas that need attention and the potential solutions that need to be worked on.
Having the opportunity to lead UICC will help consolidate my current efforts as well as give new direction towards reducing the cancer burden globally.
Lastly, it is time for the leadership of UICC to come from the area with the largest population and largest cancer burden, where the majority of the World Cancer Declaration targets need to be addressed. In addition, encouragement from the majority of member organisations and global leaders in cancer control motivates me to resubmit my nomination yet again.
I have been actively involved and possess a strong knowledge of the working and the mission of UICC having served on the Board of Directors for the last four years. The purpose statement of UICC was drafted during this time and I was actively involved in this process.
I have also served on many of the pivotal committees of the Board, namely the Governance, Finance, Membership, Congress and World Cancer Leaders’ Summit. I have had the privilege to lead the Paris 2016 World Cancer Congress as well as the 2018 Kuala Lumpur Congress as co-chair. In addition, I have been editor of the recently published UICC Manual of Clinical Oncology as well as serve as a member of the literature watch committee of the UICC TNM.
With thirty years’ experience as an oncologist, researcher and administrator in the field of cancer control, I have been Director at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India – the largest and one of the oldest comprehensive cancer centres. The hospital is considered a leader not only in the country, but also in the region for cancer control activities and policy. It has had a close association with UICC since its inception and hosted the UICC World Congress in 1994.
I hold numerous leadership positions both nationally and internationally on board of directors, governing councils and executive committees of various hospitals, research centres, governmental organisations, cancer care organisations, advocacy group and professional bodies.
Having delivered over 350 lectures, keynote addresses and orations around the world, I am comfortable speaking and interacting at the highest levels. I have a strong scientific background, having authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications. This unique position of being a clinician, researcher, administrator and a leader gives me the advantage of bringing the right blend of science and action into the fight on cancer control.
The prime area of my focus would be towards consolidating efforts to achieve the World Cancer Declaration targets.
Top of the list of priorities would be – tobacco control advocacy which still is a major issue worldwide, more so in LMICs. In addition, efforts towards control of cervical cancer responding to the recent call of the WHO director general would be high on my agenda.
I would make efforts to unite the cancer community by enrolling more members as well as ensuring that current members are more engaged in the activities of UICC. Efforts will be made to broaden our relationships with other cancer and non-cancer related partners. I also believe that engaging potential young leaders would be the right step towards ensuring the continuity of cancer control in the years to come.
I will strive to put objective criteria in monitoring our progress towards the implementation of the World Cancer Declaration targets. In addition, as part of this effort, I shall try to develop implementation tools that are adaptable at different levels and across different regions of the world.
As part of the ‘C/Can 2025’ Task Force, I will build and take this latest initiative to completion. C/Can 2025 is a new initiative of UICC, focussed on putting together a total cancer solution for cities globally. Initially targeted at five cities, the final plan is to impact 500 cities worldwide. There is so much to do, but space constraints restrict me from listing all. Let’s walk together to make a difference in our efforts towards global cancer control.