Many of the world´s leading cancer experts meet in Cape Town, South Africa, from 11-16 December under an IAEA-backed global initiative of partners to fight the disease.
"Cancer is spreading very fast in the developing world and the IAEA has come to realize that we need to do much more to combat cancer in this part of the world," says IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei in a video address to the conference. "I hope this event will be the first of many events that would enable us to work together - national governments, international organisations, civil society - to help combat this dreadful disease and provide quality of life to our fellow human beings." The workshop sessions are sponsored by the IAEA´s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy, or "PACT", a global partnership, and supported by the IAEA Nobel Peace Prize fund.
PACT goals are backed by African Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and F.W. de Klerk, and the Cape Town meetings will bring together senior representatives from major national and international cancer organisations. Together with leading public figures and specialists they will assess the growing cancer burden in Africa and focus on building effective cancer control programmes at the national and regional levels. The IAEA is sponsoring the intensive workshops using funds awarded for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death worldwide after cardiovascular disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 7.6 million people died of cancer in 2005 and warns of an epidemic with up to 10 million deaths a year by 2015. The majority of new cancer cases are now in low and middle income countries. Faced with the multiple health challenges posed by AIDS/HIV, malaria and tuberculosis (TB), many poor countries simply do not have the resources to fight cancer.
"We must have a global alliance and a global fund to fight this disease," says the IAEA´s Massoud Samiei, who heads PACT.