The global cancer community has called on the world to take immediate steps to reduce the global cancer burden by committing to the 11 Declaration targets and provide the resources and political backing needed to achieve them.
The clarion call for action is actually a reminder to international governmental organizations, the international donor community, development agencies, professional organizations, the private sector and all civil society to take immediate steps to slow and ultimately reverse the growth in deaths from cancer.
The declaration prepared at the last congress in 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland, was officially affirmed and adopted by the 2010 congress and consequently asked above institutions to start their action plans by committing to the targets set out for achievement and by providing resources and political backing for the priority actions needed to achieve them.
The World Cancer Declaration is a tool to help cancer advocates bring the growing cancer crisis to the attention of health policymakers at national, regional and global levels. It represents a consensus between foundations, national and international non-governmental and governmental organizations, professional bodies, the private sector, academia and civil society from all continents that are committed to the vision of eliminating cancer as a major threat for future generations.
The Congress, organised by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), with support from the host nation and other supporting Agencies including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Cancer Society (ANC) among other groups every two years, attracted about 6,000 delegates from all over the world to China’s Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Centre, the venue.
UICC is the only Non-Governmental Organisation dedicated exclusively to the global control of Cancer. Based in Geneva-Switzerland, it unites about 300 member organisations in over 100 countries and regions.
Delegates who were made up of Cancer and Tobacco control experts, volunteers, cancer survivors, caregivers, researchers and the media strategised on how to address the global cancer and tobacco menace and the increasing number of cancer deaths worldwide.
The four-day Congress scheduled for August 18-21 also brought together governments, Non-Governmental Organisations and health professionals among others, to help work out national cancer plans which would bring the needed significant changes in Cancer control.
Apart from the official opening ceremony and the plenary sessions, the meeting which was the 21st session, took time to work in supporting the implementation of the “World Cancer Declaration”, which is a global call to action detailing the 11 targets that would help reverse the cancer epidemic by the year 2020.
By the deadline, the Declaration is expecting that Sustainable delivery systems will be in place to ensure that effective cancer control programmes are available in all countries and that the measurement of the global cancer burden and the impact of cancer control interventions would have improved significantly.
That the Global tobacco consumption, obesity and alcohol intake levels would have fallen significantly while populations in the areas affected by HPV and HBV will be covered by universal vaccination programmes.
That many more cancers would be diagnosed when still localized through the provision of screening and early detection programmes and high levels of public and professional awareness about important cancer warning signs and an improvement in access to accurate cancer diagnosis, appropriate cancer treatments, supportive care, rehabilitation services and palliative care for all patients worldwide.
There would be effective pain control measures available universally to all cancer patients in pain and major improvements in cancer survival rates in all countries.
Under the Health Policy, it is expected that Cancer should be placed on the development agenda and there should be increased political priority given to cancer by demonstrating that a country’s investment in dealing with its growing cancer problem was an investment in the economic and social well-being of the country.
In addition, organizations concerned with cancer control should work with the global donor community, development agencies, the private sector and all civil society to invest in cancer control, while mobilising stakeholders to ensure that strategies to control cancer globally were targeted at those who were most in need.
For Cancer prevention and early detection, there should be increased efforts to reduce tobacco consumption by encouraging governments to fully implement and enforce the FCTC and raise awareness about the need for culturally sensitive cancer risk reduction campaigns, along with public and professional education about cancer warning signs.
Efforts should be made to push governments to implement policies that will support risk-reducing strategies at a community level and enable individuals to make more informed consumption choices and adopt healthier behaviour and encourage governments to implement measures to reduce people’s exposure to environmental and occupational carcinogens.
Governments should undertake actions to ensure that vaccines and other strategies shown to prevent cancer-causing infections were made more widely available
For cancer treatment, the declaration said governments and health professionals should promote the development and use of cancer treatment guidelines that were relevant to local needs and resources. To ensure that sufficient treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care facilities and well-trained staff were available to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of patients with cancer.
Health workers should also take steps to tackle the many barriers to optimal pain control. Work with governments to address the over-regulation of pain medicines. Cooperate with international organizations, including the International Narcotics Control Board and the WHO, to ensure that global implementation of the UN’s international drug control conventions did not unduly interfere with legitimate efforts to advance access to pain medicines for cancer patients in pain.
They should also work with the pharmaceutical industry to increase access to cancer medicines that were affordable and of assured quality and increase the number of health professionals with expertise in all aspects of cancer control by providing specialist training opportunities and fellowships to enable professionals to study in specialist settings.
The declaration called for increased investment in independent basic and applied cancer research and accelerate the translation of research findings into clinical and public health practice and said cancer research organizations in different countries should be encouraged to collaborate, share data and define complementary research objectives to optimize the use of the limited funds available for cancer research and reduce duplication of effort.
In progressing towards the 2020 targets, the UICC said though “these targets are ambitious, in the past few years, however, there is growing evidence that concerted action can make a difference in a short time. We believe, therefore, that the targets can be achieved provided a number of priority actions are implemented”.
It said, “Through its member organizations, no more than 300 in over 100 countries, UICC will promote partnerships and international collaboration aimed at accelerating progress towards achieving the 2020 targets.
“Given the huge variability in cancer burden and service provision throughout the world, the UICC will encourage members to use the World Cancer Declaration as a template to develop regional or national cancer declarations that can better reflect local needs and priorities and allow for more accurate quantification of targets where data exists”, it added.
The UICC said it would prepare a report every two years on the progress made towards achieving the 2020 targets to be presented at the biennial World Cancer Congresses.