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IAEA Meets with International Experts to Strengthen its Cancer Control Review Service

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Soehartati Gohdhowiardjo (right), the Chair of Indonesia’s National Cancer Control Committee during her group discussion, with Karima Bendahhou from the Cancer Registry of Greater Casablanca in Morocco (J. Howlett/IAEA)

IAEA partners, national representatives and independent experts met in Vienna last month to discuss how the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the evidence gathered and guidance provided by IAEA-led cancer control reviews (imPACT Reviews) could be strengthened to support Member States improve their cancer control services.

As the IAEA will soon be conducting its hundredth imPACT Review (scheduled to take place in 2019), it’s timely to evaluate the overall methodology for the Reviews, and ensure imPACT’s continued importance in the future.

The meeting brought together important imPACT Review partners, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC), together with Divisions from across the IAEA that are working on cancer control. Representatives from Member States common to both the IAEA and WHO, and independent experts, also attended.

Beyond being a major health issue for individuals and governments, cancer has also become a development challenge for countries around the world. New data released by IARC in September indicates that the number of people globally developing cancer this year will exceed 18 million, with 9.6 million dying. By 2030, annual figures are projected to rise to 24 million cases, with 13 million deaths each year.

Cherian Varghese, WHO (centre), discusses recommendations for strengthening the imPACT Review process during a group working session. Pictured with Salah Bouyoucef, nuclear medicine expert (left) and Margaret Fitch, Oncology nursing expert (right).

Cherian Varghese, WHO’s Coordinator for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, referred to the WHO’s 2017 cancer resolution and the outcome of the Third High-level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases held in September, which emphasises access to comprehensive and cost-effective cancer services as a fundamental part of cancer control. “This is a big task for countries,” he said. “The imPACT Review is an important initiative which highlights where progress can be made.”

“imPACT Reviews provide an authentic and validated situational analysis of a country’s current cancer situation with pragmatic recommendations,” said Rengaswamy Sankaranarayanan, Senior Visiting Scientist at IARC. “This service is extremely useful for Ministries of Health who require otherwise scarcely available information for developing and implementing cancer control activities.”

Soehartati Gohdhowiardjo, the Chair of Indonesia’s National Cancer Control Committee, spoke from a national perspective about the importance of engaging all those working in cancer control, “Each stakeholder has their own strength to contribute in implementing the National Cancer Control Plan, this especially includes involving and securing commitment from high levels in other Ministries. We should therefore involve representatives very early, particularly in the preparation of the imPACT missions,” she said.

Nelly Enwerem-Bromson, Director of IAEA’s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy, described imPACT’s contribution to cancer control planning and the mobilization of resources, “true to its name, imPACT has had an impact in many countries and has shown what can be achieved through excellent collaboration between partners. This workshop has proved very important. We looked critically at what we have done in the past, and seen how new ideas and perspectives can help improve and strengthen the imPACT approach.”

Participants at the imPACT Methodology review meeting joined from the IAEA, WHO and IARC, Member States common to IAEA and WHO, with independent experts.

Background to imPACT Reviews

imPACT Reviews have been providing insights to a country’s cancer situation and its capacities to improve public access to services since 2005. The Reviews draw on the experience and knowledge of international experts covering all areas of cancer control, while also promoting collaboration between Member States, national health institutions and IAEA partners.

Reviews are conducted upon the request of a country’s Minister of Health. Each drawing together a team of experts from a broad range of disciplines in cancer control, nominated by the IAEA, WHO and IARC, to support the government’s cancer control planning and decision-making processes. Many imPACT Reviews have contributed to improving National Cancer Control Plans and to the mobilization of relevant resources. Reviews also help health authorities to prioritise their cancer control interventions and investments, advocate to improve access to cancer diagnosis and treatment, assist in formulating workforce development plans and guide the establishment of safe radiation medicine practices.

The IAEA has so far conducted 96 imPACT Reviews, most recently for Afghanistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Indonesia, Mexico and Togo.

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