An ESMO Statement submitted to the 71st Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe welcomed the report ‘Response to the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons learned to date from the WHO European Region’. In the statement, ESMO agreed with the ambitious and comprehensive measures proposed, and asked Member States to include more detailed measures in national health emergency plans that:
- Protect and care for those at higher risk, such as healthcare professionals and people with pre-existing conditions, like those with NCDs and immune-compromised illnesses such as cancer.
- Secure continued and timely access to essential cancer and palliative care medicines and services, avoiding competition with resources required for health emergencies.
- Provide institutes and health workers with ethical and methodological decision-making guidelines, especially in cases where resources must be re-allocated or are in shortage.
- Address the needs of cancer patients unable to access cancer services on a timely basis due to travel restrictions or fear of leaving their homes and contracting COVID-19 or one of its variants.
- Continue to honour the WHO International Year of Health and Care Workers by implementing the World Health Assembly Resolution on ‘Protecting, safeguarding and investing in the health and care workforce’, essential to ensure an adequate, well-trained, well-resourced, and resilient routine and health emergency workforce.
- Strengthen real-time data sharing with policy makers, healthcare workers and patients, and improve their health literacy and digital technology skills.
ESMO’s statement also highlighted how its resources could be valuable in support of WHO’s global efforts, such as the ‘ESMO COVID-19 and Cancer Portal’ which includes ‘ESMO recommendations for cancer management in the era of COVID-19’ for oncology professionals, a guide for patients, a webinar series, and the ESMO-CoCARE registry to gather clinical data.