In a joint statement issued on the occasion of the United Nations Civil Society Hearing on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in New York, NY, USA, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology ( ASCO) are asking world leaders and health ministers of the 193 United Nations (UN) member countries to reduce the burden of all non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer.

Two of the world?s leading organizations for oncology professionals, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology ( ASCO), issued a joint statement calling upon governments around the globe to renew political commitment to improve cancer services and reduce cancer deaths.

In their statement, which was issued on the occasion of the United Nations Civil Society Hearing on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in New York, NY, USA, the two organizations are asking world leaders and health ministers of the 193 United Nations (UN) member countries to reduce the burden of all non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer. The two organizations issued a joint statement in advance of the third High-level Meeting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, taking place on September 27, 2018, in New York.

Increasing knowledge
?Despite the progress we have made in treating cancer, millions of people still die prematurely from the disease because they do not have access to the necessary resources to receive high-quality care,? said Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FASCO, FSCT, Chief Medical Officer of ASCO. ?This is simply unacceptable and we are calling on all countries to take the steps necessary to prevent or reduce this needless suffering.?

?[And while we] as cancer doctors, [] work hard every day to ensure that patients receive the best possible care…. and [we’re can] even cure some cancers if we intervene early enough,in many countries access to even the most inexpensive essential cancer medicines and priority medical devices is lacking,? Alexandru Eniu, Chair of the ESMO Global Policy Committee, warned.

?We urgently need governments to work with us and ensure that we have enough oncology professionals, and the necessary resources, to apply our knowledge and save lives,? Eniu further added.

Scale up efforts
?Recent UN and WHO reports note that unless countries significantly scale-up their actions and investments, they will not meet agreed targets to reduce deaths from non-communicable diseases,” said ESMO President, Josep Tabernero.

“We are concerned that governments may find it easier to achieve their targets by reducing deaths from only some NCDs, leaving cancer patients behind. We believe there are cost-effective ways to improve cancer care and stand ready to assist countries in doing this by providing our expertise in cancer management to support implementation of the 2017 World Health Assembly Cancer Resolution,? Tabernero observed.

?We urge Member States to consider our joint call and amendments to strengthen the Political Declaration to be approved during the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs on 27 September and thus change the future outlook for cancer patients worldwide,? Tabernero concluded.

High-level Meetings
The UN first convened a High-level Meeting on this issue in 2011, only the second health-related High-level Meeting in the history of the UN, that resulted in a Political Declaration recognizing cancer and other NCDs as a global health priority. In addition, the UN member countries also made 22 political commitments and directed the World Health Organization (WHO) to set goals for preventing and controlling NCDs.

In the statement, ASCO and ESMO reiterate their support for the WHO?s goals of reducing premature mortality from cancer by 25% by 2025, and by 33% by 2030. To make them a reality, ASCO and ESMO are requesting a UN Political Declaration from the upcoming High-Level Meeting on NCDs stating that it is necessary for governments to:

  • Implement the 2017 World Health Assembly Cancer Resolution which should serve as the reference document to improve cancer control
  • Develop and strengthen educational programs that provide cost-effective lifestyle recommendations to prevent tobacco use, reduce harmful use of alcohol, promote physical activity, and encourage healthy weight control.
  • Develop efficient and cost-effective primary prevention measures (e.g. HPV vaccination, viral hepatitis infection vaccination, and Helicobacter pylori eradication).
  • Assure timely access to screening for pre-malignant lesions, early-stage diagnosis, and high-quality, affordable cancer treatment for all stages of cancer including advanced/metastatic cancers.
  • Strengthen health systems to achieve access for all and provide necessary cancer services to the millions of patients who die prematurely because they do not have access to cancer treatment.
  • Provide essential secondary health care services that assure an adequate number of well-trained oncology professionals, who have sustainable access to the resources required to provide appropriate treatment, and supportive and palliative care.
  • Commit to achieving the targets of reducing premature mortality by 25% by 2025, and by 33% by 2030, across all NCDs.

Last Editorial Review: July 5, 2018

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