Statement at World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day

Vienna, Austria

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Colleagues,

It is a great honour for us to have Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired of the Kingdom of Jordan with us today as we mark World Cancer Day.

Her work as Director General of the King Hussein Cancer Centre is an inspiration to us all. I commend her for her tireless efforts to help make affordable and accessible cancer treatment available throughout the world.

I also greatly value her support for our work at the IAEA. We help developing countries to build their radiation medicine capacity so they can make effective cancer care more available to their people.

As many of you are aware, I made cancer control in developing countries a high priority in 2010, my first year as Director General. This commemoration of World Cancer Day provides an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved.

Awareness of the growing cancer epidemic in developing countries is steadily increasing. The IAEA and the World Health Organization have further strengthened their relationship through the Joint Programme on Cancer Control.

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO, addressed our Scientific Forum here in Vienna last September.

Partnerships with other regional and international organizations guarantee greater impact on the ground and ensure we are more effective in helping people actually affected by cancer.

I had the opportunity to visit hospitals and research centres in a number of developing countries last year and to address the first workshop organized through the WHO/IAEA Joint Programme, which was held in Mongolia. In 2010, for the first time, our two agencies jointly published a progress report on our work which was widely distributed to our Member States.

The role of the IAEA and its global partners in improving cancer control in developing countries is being widely recognized. More than 80 Member States have asked us to send specialist teams to assess their cancer control capacity and needs.

The shortage of trained personnel and the critical lack of access to radiation medicine in developing countries have been clearly recognized and given renewed attention. Capacity-building and training of health professionals in radiation medicine are essential.

In addition to workshops and seminars, specialist staff can now access IAEA learning material online at our new Human Health Campus website. I understand that the first programme for radiation therapists which will lead to a degree was recently started in Pakistan, based on the IAEA curriculum.

Another initiative launched in 2010 was the African pilot project for a Virtual University for Cancer Control. I am also pleased to report that, with support provided through our technical cooperation programme, national oncology services were established last year in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and El Salvador.

Our efforts were rewarded through record funding, amounting to 7 million US dollars, pledged to our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy by Member States, the private sector and through the US Peaceful Uses Initiative.

Separately, we continued our work with a number of Member States to improve global availability of the medical isotope Molybdenum-99, which is vital in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our work undoubtedly makes a difference, but there is so much more that needs to be done. The latest figures from WHO show that 7.5 million people lose their battle against cancer every year, 70% of them in developing countries.

I wish to assure you that the fight against cancer will remain a priority for the Agency throughout my term as Director General. We must do all we can to save lives and alleviate suffering.

Thank you.

Last update: 21 October 2014