Oops, you're using an old version of your browser so some of the features on this page may not be displaying properly.

MINIMAL Requirements: Google Chrome 24+Mozilla Firefox 20+Internet Explorer 11Opera 15–18Apple Safari 7SeaMonkey 2.15-2.23

ESMO Recommendations for Continued Access to Secondary and Tertiary Health Care Services for Cancer Patients Reinforced at 76th World Health Assembly

ESMO calls for specific wording on secondary and tertiary health services to be retained in the International Health Regulations and included in the UN Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage
24 May 2023

The ESMO statement submitted at the 76th World Health Assembly welcomed the most recent draft amendments to the International Health Regulations, which if adopted by WHO Member States in 2024 will be legally binding under international law as of 2025, unless a state proactively files rejections or reservations within a 10-month period after their adoption in 2024. 

These amendments include the recommendations proposed by ESMO, that resilient health systems should include not only local community and primary health care services but also both secondary and tertiary level services.

Given that cancer patients are disproportionately treated at secondary and/or tertiary levels, and that one in five people will develop cancer at some point in their lives, ESMO urged Member States to ensure that this wording remains in the final version of the updated International Health Regulations in order not leave millions of cancer patients behind.

ESMO  also called on WHO and UN Member States to support the inclusion of equally specific language on secondary and tertiary healthcare, as opposed to the more generic term ‘continuum of care’, in the planned 2023 UN Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage to be adopted by the UN on 21 September 2023. This Political Declaration represents the commitment of governments at the highest political levels to work towards achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030, and to uphold the human right to health through the provision of affordable quality health services that leave no one behind. During the meeting, the World Health Assembly was asked to note the reports of the WHO Director General related to the topics above and to adopt Resolution (EB152/5) entitled: Preparation for the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on universal health coverage

Understanding that sustainable and resilient health systems need to be founded on Universal Health Coverage, and that to achieve Universal Health Coverage Noncommunicable Diseases must be addressed, ESMO endorsed a joint statement led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) calling on governments to utilize the WHO ‘Best Buys’ (updated Appendix 3) to develop and scale-up national Universal Health Coverage benefit packages. Appendix 3 consists of a menu of policy options to support the implementation of WHO Global NCD Action Plan objectives. It outlines a list of policy options and cost-effective interventions Member States should prioritise in order to prevent and control NCDs. For cancer treatment, it includes the 14 most cost-effective actions countries can take. The statement also calls for a coherent patient pathway between detection, diagnosis and treatment, the inclusion of palliative and rehabilitation services into existing NCD infrastructures and Universal Health Coverage, as well as monitoring the effectiveness of NCD interventions, and the planning for their continuation during health emergencies. The World Health Assembly endorsed the ‘best buys’, which provide countries of all income levels additional options to save lives from the diseases with the highest levels of mortality.

ESMO also joined a statement by the NCD Alliance on the WHO framework for 'Well-being and health promotion' which is one of WHO’s triple billion targets. The target is for 1 billion people to enjoy better health and well-being by 2025. The joint statement urges Member States to safeguard well-being policies from conflict of interests from the private sector, involve people living with NCDs in the planning and development of well-being policies, and promote multisectoral solutions that leverage existing policies in other areas and ensure that all health-related policies are complementary and reinforce each other. The World Health Assembly adopted the “Global framework for integrating well-being into public health utilizing a health promotion approach", which “strives to enable all people to flourish and achieve their full physical and mental health potential throughout their lives and across generations”. It’s six key strategic directions focus on: universal health coverage, equitable economies, protecting the planet, social protection systems, digital systems to enable health, and measuring and monitoring well-being.

ESMO congratulated WHO on its 75th Anniversary this year, which also represents the 20th Anniversary of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO.

About the World Health Assembly

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The 76th World Health Assembly had as a theme: Saving lives, driving health for all. 

International Health Regulations and ‘Pandemic Accord’

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 194 Member States of the World Health Organization are negotiating a convention, agreement, or other international instrument (generally referred to as the ‘pandemic accord’ or ‘CA+’ – Convention Agreement +) to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response and increase health security. 

Under the coordination of WHO, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) composed of WHO Member States is leading this process. The content of the pandemic accord is crucial as it will regulate health globally and Member States will decide its terms, including whether any of its provisions will be legally binding under international law.

In addition, the WHO is coordinating the update of the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), which are legally binding, unless a state proactively files rejections or reservations within a 10-month period after their adoption.

Both documents are intended to regulate a coordinated global effort for national and international responses to health emergencies. Key components are strengthening the role of WHO, increasing the resilience of health systems, and uniting collective action around the principles of equity, inclusivity, and coherence for worldwide assistance and distribution of essential medical goods, including vaccines.

Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage means that everyone, everywhere, should have access to the health services, when and wherever they need them, without risk of financial hardship. It includes the full range of essential health services, spanning health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

In 2019 the United Nations held its first High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage. The outcome of that meeting was a Political Declaration indicating political commitment by Heads of State to achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030.

Achieving Universal Health Coverage was also previously agreed by the UN in 2015 in the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Target 3.8 “Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services, and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.”

Universal Health Coverage is key to achieving sustainable and resilient healthcare systems, including access to cancer services, and avoiding delays and disruptions in healthcare services during health emergencies and pandemics.

This site uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential, while others help us improve your experience by providing insights into how the site is being used.

For more detailed information on the cookies we use, please check our Privacy Policy.

Customise settings
  • Necessary cookies enable core functionality. The website cannot function properly without these cookies, and you can only disable them by changing your browser preferences.