To help address the cancer challenges faced by its developing Member States, the IAEA's Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) offers an imPACT Review Mission. An imPACT Review Mission is a service provided by the IAEA and is conducted in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partner organizations. The mission provides a country with a comprehensive assessment of its cancer control capacity and needs. In late September, Malaysia became the 45th country to receive an imPACT mission, setting a milestone for the PACT Programme since imPACT's inception in 2005.
As observed in many advanced developing countries, Malaysia is beginning to observe an epidemiological shift from communicable diseases to those related to lifestyle, particularly cancers and cardiovascular diseases (commonly known as non-communicable diseases). Over the past two decades, Malaysia has seen a steady increase in the number of deaths attributable to cancer among its population, and approximately 30 000 new cancer cases occur each year.
As Malaysia's health authorities are concerned about an increase in cancer incidence, PACT was requested by the Malaysian Ministry of Health to conduct an imPACT Review from 24-28 September 2012.
The imPACT Review Mission to Malaysia was conducted under the WHO/IAEA Joint Programme on Cancer Control and was carried out by a team of international experts in the areas of cancer control planning, prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment (including radiation oncology and nuclear medicine), cancer registration and palliative care. PACT's partners were involved in the planning and implementation of the mission, notably the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) and the WHO Country Office for Malaysia. The WHO Representative in Malaysia, Dr. Graham Harrison, played a role in supporting the mission's efforts. The Malaysian Nuclear Agency and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also contributed to the mission's preparation.
During the mission, the imPACT Review team conducted site visits to major oncology centres, hospitals, primary health care facilities, research institutions and cancer non-governmental organizations. Visits took place in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Petaling Jaya and Sarawak, giving the expert team a cross-section of the cancer capacities and needs throughout Malaysia.
The imPACT Review process for Malaysia will culminate in a comprehensive report to the Ministry of Health where findings and recommendations from the expert team will be detailed. These recommendations are designed to help the country to improve cancer services and reduce mortality in the long-term.