At the end of May, the IAEA, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), brought together representatives from 18 of the IAEA's and WHO's European Member States to discuss national cancer control progress and opportunities for further development and implementation of national cancer control plans. Improving individual aspects of cancer control such as cancer data availability along with its quality, cancer control planning, including strategic planning for radiation medicine activities and quality assurance were some of the recommendations of the meeting.
"Bringing together a large group of Member States from a similar region helps to promote the exchange of best practices between countries that could be facing similar circumstances in terms of cancer burden and available resources," explained Rolando Camacho, Head of the IAEA's Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) office. The meeting participants agreed on regional priorities, including the potential development of a regional cancer training network in Europe, which could be applied through the Virtual University for Cancer Control model that is currently being implemented as a pilot project in Africa. Women's cancers were also listed among priorities, including breast and cervical cancer control strategies.
"What you are getting out of this is that you meet a lot of people and most of them have the same problems as you but have different solutions and different views," said Jozsef Lovey from the National Institute of Oncology of Hungary. "By facilitating communication between these stakeholders in a concentrated format and time span you acquire a lot of good practical information on how to solve your problems."
The meeting was designed to assess the level of cancer control progress in participating countries, aiming to use this information to create recommendations for future Member State actions, as well as to encourage cooperation and coordination between the IAEA, the WHO and their partner organizations.
"It is entirely logical that different agencies have different strengths and complementary messages," said Gauden Galea, representative of the WHO Regional Office for Europe. "We also have different counterparts in ministries of health and others sectors, so the ensemble of different agencies in the UN and international NGOs helps to achieve that coordination."
The regional meeting was a follow-up to the July 2012 regional coordination meeting Development and Implementation of a National Cancer Control Programme. The two meetings are part of a Regional IAEA Technical Cooperation project on supporting comprehensive cancer control.