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National Experts Discuss IAEA Cancer Review Service and its New Virtual Components


The IAEA’s imPACT Review assesses a country’s cancer control capacities and needs and identifies where interventions should be prioritised to ease the cancer burden. (Photo: National Cancer Institute, United States of America)

With the introduction of travel restrictions and social distancing around the world in 2020, the IAEA and partners quickly adapted the imPACT Review, one of its key health assessment services, to help improve a country’s cancer control capacities.

The value of cross-regional exchange of experiences and lessons learned, the importance of the reviews in planning technical cooperation projects and the new virtual components of the imPACT methodology, were discussed this week by national cancer programme policy makers during a multilingual webinar.

“Tackling cancer in times of the global pandemic has been a priority for the IAEA,” said Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation in his opening remarks during the 29 June webinar. “We have continued to work under the auspices of the Joint WHO-IAEA Programme on Cancer Control to support the needs of Member States.”

The IAEA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the WHO offer the imPACT Review as a joint advisory service. During the webinar, experts from the three organizations explained the scope, methodology and purpose of the assessments, focusing on specific areas of the cancer control continuum from governance to palliative care.

The webinar brought together National Liaison Officers and representatives from Ministries of Health who presented the value of imPACT Reviews in their countries, as well as participants from donor countries supporting technical cooperation work on cancer.

“The imPACT Review has been the trigger to develop our new National Cancer Control Programme and to initiate the strategic plan for childhood cancer and national radiotherapy plan,” said Janaki Vidanapathirana, Director of Sri Lanka’s National Cancer Control Programme. Her presentation, alongside contributions from Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Senegal and Zambia, showcased key national outcomes achieved following imPACT Reviews, which helped to strengthen cancer control in each country.

Hearing key accomplishments from Member States showed the tangible impact of these Reviews. This forum brought together many countries to share experiences, lessons learned and ways forward in cancer control,” said Geraldine Arias de Goebl, Head of the IAEA’s Cancer Control Review and Planning. “It was also an opportunity to hear from our partners WHO and IARC on relevant topics in cancer control for Member States such as the governance of national cancer planning, surveillance and registration, and early detection.

The imPACT Review has been the trigger to develop our new National Cancer Control Programme and to initiate the strategic plan for childhood cancer and national radiotherapy plan.
Janaki Vidanapathirana, Director, National Cancer Control Programme, Sri Lanka

During the webinar, representatives from Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Senegal, and Zambia provided insights on the key imPACT Review outcomes that helped to strengthen cancer control in their countries.

Realistic and robust cancer strategies

A major challenge countries face in successfully tackling cancer is formulating realistic and robust cancer control strategies and plans, while considering available resources. Thanks to imPACT Reviews, they do not have to find solutions alone. Countries can request the unique assessment tool to support their efforts to improve national comprehensive cancer control. The review is an international teamwork effort that provides concrete results and supports evidence-based planning.

The semi-virtual nature of imPACT Reviews, introduced in early 2020, has ensured continuity of service during the global pandemic. “The virtual modality was effective,” said Malick Anne, Director of the Division of Non-Communicable Diseases at the Senegalese Ministry of Health and Social Action. “The findings and recommendations of the 2020 imPACT Review to Senegal will be used to inform the new National Cancer Control Plan and related resource mobilization strategy.”

Since 2005, 95 countries have received comprehensive assessments and follow-up support to improve their national cancer control capacities. The imPACT Reviews webinar was a timely opportunity to present the experiences of countries receiving joint support from the IAEA, IARC and WHO to assess and plan national cancer control programmes. All IAEA Member States are eligible to request this advisory service to strengthen their cancer control capacities and to enable international partners to deliver more effective support, directly impacting the lives of cancer patients.

Fostering inclusive and international participation, the webinar opened by IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation Hua Liu was broadcast with simultaneous interpretation into five official UN languages. (Photo: D. Borak/IAEA)

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