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Scientific Forum

Cancer in Developing Countries: Facing the Challenge

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Bringing Partners Together


To meet the global challenge in the fight against cancer, action need to be coordinated and new resources mobilized. The IAEA created the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) to help build an international alliance of leading cancer organizations and assist low-middle income countries in mobilizing support and new funding to confront the cancer crisis. PACT collaborates with the WHO within the framework of the WHO/IAEA Joint Programme on Cancer Control. PACT has also formed partnerships with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI), the American Cancer Society (ACS), several national cancer institutes such as those in Brazil, Egypt, France, and the USA, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Tata Memorial Centre, and various other NGOs or private sector organizations active in cancer care. Additionally, through an Advisory Group, PACT is bringing together users and suppliers of radiotherapy technologies, as well as relevant international organizations and stakeholders, to ensure that the specific requirements of cancer care in developing countries are adequately addressed by the industry.

There are of course many other parallel efforts to combat cancer, notably, The World Cancer Declaration, promoted by the UICC, which helps bring the growing cancer crisis to the attention of government leaders and health policymakers in an effort to significantly reduce the global cancer burden by 2020. UICC encourages priority actions to achieve the Declaration´s targets nationally and promotes a comprehensive response across the globe through its partners.

During the session titled, Bringing Partners Together, panellists discussed how partnerships are formed and how partners collaborate in cancer control to pool their experience and resources.

National Cancer Institute, USA: Building a Global Workforce in Cancer Prevention

The US-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers a training course to provide a specialized curriculum in the principles and practice of cancer prevention and control. The four to five-week training focuses on concepts and methods in primary and secondary prevention activities. Many participants from all over the world have received this NCI training including 80 health professionals awarded by the NCI as part of its partnership with PACT.

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC): How to Get the Policy Makers to Listen: A global NGO´s Perspective

The UICC is promoting the The World Cancer Declaration, which is implemented by convening its members around the world, getting them to work together, share experience, share understanding, expertise and knowledge. The UICC is working closely with the US-based National Cancer Institute, the LIVESTRONG Foundation, the American Cancer Society, PACT and WHO. The UICC also operates capacity-building programmes that are delivered in part through the UICC´s fellowship programme. Through partnerships with hospitals, national cancer institutes and cancer organizations that care passionately about controlling cancer, UICC has facilitated training for some 6000 fellows around the world.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Education and Training for Cancer Early-Detection Programmes, particularly in Low- and Medium-resourced Countries

The IARC coordinates and conducts research on cancer, as well as developing scientific strategies for cancer prevention and control. The Agency works closely with the WHO, IAEA, UICC and its Member States. Over the past 10 years, IARC has delivered about 53 training programmes, during which more than 900 master trainers have been trained in various areas. Multilateral cooperation with international and national organizations can trigger a significant catalytic effect. At the same time, it is responsibility of the national governments to invest in a regular budget to establish and improve the health care infrastructure the human resources and the training programmes, because external assistance will not lead to sustainable programmes.

National Cancer Institute, Brazil: Action to Bring Partners Together in Brazil and Latin America

Today, cancer control is a public health challenge, a problem that must be addressed by the entire health care system. The Brazilian National Cancer Institute highlighted the PACT´s prominent role in bringing together the alliance of leading cancer control organizations. These organizations need to define strategic objectives and goals. The UICC´s World Cancer Declaration could serve as a road map for a strategic alignment of the global institutions to achieve the objectives of the WHO recommendations to cure the curable, to prevent the preventable and to treat the treatable. The Brazilian National Cancer Institute is contributing their part by running on-site audits in Latin American countries and is creating a network of cooperation among the countries and institutions.

Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI): Resource-Stratified Guideline Implementation for Breast Cancer in Low- and Middle Income Countries

BHGI focuses on guideline development and organized three global summits in 2002, 2005 and 2008. To disseminate the message that cancer is curable, BHGI proposes a holistic approach that empowers survivors to speak out about their story. The public has to realize that the cycle of early detection, diagnosis and treatment creating survivorship, advocacy and awareness is going to work. BHGI also runs two breast cancer courses in Ghana. PACT is one of BHGI´s partners, along with the European-based NGO, Hope Exchange, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which has been a critical funder of BHGI from its beginning.

TATA Memorial Centre: Bringing Partners Together: Indian Perspective

The Indian government invests in cost-effective infrastructure, focussing on developing indigenous systems, providing low-cost drugs and testing low-cost technologies through the Department of Science and Technologies, the Department of Biotechnology, and various other departments. The TATA Memorial Centre concentrates on developing guidelines for breast cancer and other sites which are robust enough to be implemented in low-resource environments. They are also cooperating with the WHO, IAEA, IARC and several governments such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka to train doctors around the globe.

Varian Medical Systems: What Can the Industry Offer to Make Access to Technology Easier?

Varian is the world´s leading radiotherapy supplier and has the goal to save every year 100 000 additional lives by providing technology to the market and making advanced therapy accessible for many people around the world. This goal can be only achieved through partnerships. Varian has approached international organizations such as the IAEA to understand the needs of their Member States and how Varian can support the international organizations. Varian recently launched a complete radiotherapy treatment solution for low-resource settings which is offered with service, training and education packages.

Best Theratronics: Cancer Treatment Needs in Developing Countries: Role of Cobalt-60 Radiotherapy in Delivery of Advanced, Reliable and Economical Cancer Therapy

Best Theratronics along with the non-profit Cure Foundation share the IAEA´s ultimate goal to improve and accelerate access to effective radiotherapy services as an essential element of an integrated national cancer control programme. Only collaboration with stakeholders in cancer control in developing countries will result in effective and sustainable programmes. Best Theratronics´ supplies cost-effective and robust technology, accompanied by the training and education for both cancer diagnostics and radiotherapy. The Cure Foundation has a long-term interest in the effective delivery of cancer care with the commitment to building hundreds of non-profit cure clinics globally, featuring regionally appropriate technology to provide the broadest possible range of effective and essential diagnostic and therapeutic treatment modalities.


In the global fight against cancer, there is a need for international cancer associations and institutions to work with each other and collaborate with governments. Cancer survivors need to be empowered and decision-makers more closely involved. Training is considered a key component in collaborative activities, such as the cooperation between PACT and the US National Cancer Institute to select and train individuals from developing countries in the NCI Summer Curriculum, as well as the partnership between PACT and the BHGI to support each other in training courses in Africa. Partnerships require a holistic approach in-country and across institutions as well as at the international level with well-defined objectives and activities. PACT is a new model within UN organizations to build global partnerships involving Ministries of Health and their local counterparts, international agencies, governmental- and non-governmental organizations, national cancer institutes, technical universities, professional societies, research institutes and the industry, which should be replicated for other areas of global challenges.