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Transcripts of Interviews

Transcript of Director General´s Opening Remarks at Inaugural Meeting of PACT Partners (27 - 28 April 2006)

IAEA Headquarters Vienna

Delivered 28 April 2006

I welcome you to the first meeting of PACT Partners.

As you know, PACT was established a year ago with the desire to improve our ability to combat cancer. And by "we" I mean Member States, intergovernmental organizations and civil society. All of us have been working on different aspects of cancer control, but we have come to realize that we need to establish greater synergy and put our heads together to see how we can be more effective.

We at the Agency have been involved in cancer work for over 30 years, focusing primarily on treatment, that is radiotherapy; but we of course realize that that in and by itself is not sufficient. We need to have comprehensive cancer control programmes, starting from prevention, and going on to detection, treatment, palliative measures, and advocacy. Clearly, we cannot do that on our own; we need partners, because we do not have the necessary expertise or the resources.

In establishing this programme, we were reaching out to other partners - intergovernmental organizations, and of course WHO, different institutions in the cancer field, civil society and Member States. We are trying to see how we can put together a comprehensive, joint programme, with an intelligent division of labour. The goal of this meeting yours and ours is basically to see how we can move forward.

Cancer control is of course a vast subject, so we need to have some priorities: to decide where to put our focus, who will do what, how we can raise funds. These are all questions key to the success of the programme.

For our part, we will continue to rely on your input and your expertise. In particular, we will rely heavily on WHO to provide technical input; it will have a leading role in that respect. Last year in the WHO General Conference a resolution was passed calling for a joint programme with the Agency, and I welcome that; it would be a step forward. We have had a joint programme - and a joint division - with FAO for many years, and it would be excellent to have a joint programme with WHO, with participation from both Headquarters and Regional Offices.

I´d like also to recognize today many from civil society, governmental institutions, the American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research, the International Union Against Cancer, the National Cancer Institute, the Open Society Institute, Oxford University, the Tata Memorial Hospital, and the World Bank - together, of course, with many of our Member States, who have been supportive of our work.

As I have indicated before, this is an effort where no one can do enough; it is an effort to which everybody should contribute. But the important thing to me, the important outcome that should result from this meeting, is to determine where to start. As you are probably aware, we have a serious funding problem, because the programme cannot be funded, and is not meant to be funded, from the Agency´s Regular Budget. We need to see how we can get extrabudgetary funding, from either governments, or civil society, or private donors. To get funding, we need to have good project proposals, and a relevant product that we can sell. In this regard we have been carrying out so-called imPACT missions. There are obviously a lot of countries that would like to host a mission because they are all interested in our work, but the key is to get the necessary resources so as to be able to respond to them all and make the programme comprehensive.

I have visited a number of countries and seen radiotherapy machines that we have provided, and they are obviously a great help. But at the same time I have heard that these countries often don´t have nuclear medicine departments, or trained physicists. So, it makes you feel bad that on the one hand you are trying to help, but on the other you know that you are not providing comprehensive or adequate or effective help. When we go in, we should go in with a comprehensive programme.

But now, working together, we should focus on areas of immediate priority. We obviously cannot start everywhere. We need to start small and then expand the programme as we go along. But I have great hopes. This is an experiment for the Agency - a programme that is developed not just for implementation by the Agency Secretariat or the Member States, but a programme in which everybody should chip in - civil society, private donors, governments, international organizations. Everybody should get together in the effort to control this spreading "monster" of cancer.

I wish you success in your meeting and I hope it will mark the beginning of fruitful cooperation between us all. My colleagues and I are fully committed to that. We want to see the programme succeed. We hope and trust that it will.