Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,
I am delighted to speak to you this morning as we gather here to open this coordination and planning meeting. We have participants from nineteen countries from the Asia and the Pacific region here today, as well as 17 experts from around the world, and I would like to welcome you all to Vienna.
Cancer is a growing problem throughout the world - the World Health Organization has estimated that the number of global cancer deaths is likely to increase by 45% from 2007 to 2030, while new cases in the same period are expected to jump from 11.3 million to 15.5 million. Cancer is the second largest cause of death in the developed world, and it appears that a similar trend is developing in countries in transition or in middle income regions. Already more than half of all cancer cases occur in developing countries.
In the Asia and the Pacific region, the incidence of cancer has increased significantly in recent years, as has an increase in cancer deaths. Fewer people are dying from infectious diseases and people are living longer, but ageing populations and poor lifestyle habits are increasing the risk of cancer. The majority of cancer deaths have been in low and middle income countries, and this is attributed to the limited availability of healthcare resources to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
The IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme, has been working to address cancer for fifty years. Radiotherapy and nuclear medicine are important focus areas, and throughout 2008, projects in the Asia and the Pacific region continued to improve the quality of health services in the region, including activities to strengthen nuclear medicine and diagnostic techniques for the management of cancer. Training to address the shortage of medical specialists in cancer diagnosis and treatment is a technical cooperation priority. Through the technical cooperation programme, radiotherapy oncologist, medical physicists, radiotherapy technology technicians, nuclear medicine professionals and diagnostic radiologists have been offered important continuous professional development opportunities.
We are also supporting the development of cancer control strategic plans, delivering this assistance through the technical cooperation programme with the backing of PACT. The three model PACT projects in the Asia and the Pacific region, in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Yemen, are the focus of comprehensive, integrated and multidisciplinary efforts to address all facets of cancer control in each country. Our new joint programme on cancer control with the World Health Organization will further strengthen and give impetus to efforts to fight cancer in the developing world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
During this meeting, you will learn about the cancer crisis in the Asia and the Pacific region, and examine strategies and approaches for prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment. You will also discuss plans and strategies for the implementation of the regional projects RAS/6/060, Supporting Comprehensive National Cancer Control, which aims to help Member States to develop comprehensive national cancer control strategic plans within the framework of Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) through collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners. The presence of so many experts from WHO, IAEA and other PACT partner organizations will guide and enrich your deliberations. The Department of Technical Cooperation is proud to be associated with this meeting. I wish you well in your discussions.