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ESMO Prioritizes Cancer Care at 71st World Health Assembly


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AT THE 71ST World Health Assembly in Geneva, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) delivered two statements positioning cancer as a priority on the global agenda of the World Health Organization (WHO). Presenting its recommendations for action to the international community, ESMO advocated the strengthening of health systems to achieve universal health coverage and to provide essential secondary health-care services to the millions of patients with cancer who die prematurely due to lack of access to appropriate treatment. 

ESMO stressed at the assembly that the widespread availability of secondary health-care services to patients with cancer depends on the presence of sufficient numbers of well-trained oncology professionals with sustainable access to the resources required to perform surgery, deliver radiotherapy, administer treatment, and provide supportive and palliative care. 

Drug Shortages 

IN A SEPARATE address, ESMO spoke out on the issue of shortages of medicines and reiterated its support to WHO initiatives in this field, including the Global Reporting System for monitoring the supply of essential cancer medicines. ESMO also voiced its agreement with the WHO’s position that “investments in access to cancer medicines should be made where they offer the greatest value for money” and drew attention to the ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale, a tool designed to help health authorities prioritize the reimbursement of cancer medicines based on their potential to improve patient outcomes. 

Alexandru Eniu, MD, PhD

Alexandru Eniu, MD, PhD

Josep Tabernero, MD, PhD

Josep Tabernero, MD, PhD

Alexandru Eniu, MD, PhD, Chair of the ESMO Global Policy Committee, said, “ESMO has worked with the WHO for over 15 years to improve cancer care—not just in Europe, but worldwide. The platform we were given to talk about cancer at this year’s [World Health Assembly] illustrates how prominent the topic is becoming on the global health agenda and confirms the relevance of our continued collaboration.” 

ESMO President Josep Tabernero, MD, PhD, added, “It was a privilege for us to be able to speak directly to the international community about the pressing global health issue that is cancer. ESMO is ready to support the WHO and its Member States in strengthening the medical oncology workforce and in identifying the most cost-effective interventions and treatments that can immediately help reduce the number of cancer deaths worldwide.” ■


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