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ESMO Supports the 74th World Health Assembly Decision on the Global Coordination Mechanism on Noncommunicable Diseases and Expanding Access to Effective Treatments for Cancer and Rare and Orphan Diseases

27 May 2021

An ESMO statement delivered at the 74th World Health Assembly supported the Assembly’s decision to extend to 2030 the mandate of the WHO Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), which include cancer. The Global Coordination Mechanism is a unique WHO initiative led by Member States. It has the task of coordinating all stakeholders (including societies like ESMO) towards the implementation of the WHO Global Action Plan on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Disease which has also been extended to 2030. In addition, it supports achieving the goals of the 2018 UN Political Declaration on NCDs, and the NCD-related targets in the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as other work by the WHO on NCDs.

The Global Coordination Mechanism has an essential role to play in supporting the reduction of the cancer burden because as the ESMO statement noted, despite the adoption of the 2017 Cancer Resolution, the 2020 WHO Report on Cancer states only 12 countries are on track to achieve target 3.4 to reduce premature deaths from cancer by one-third by 2030.  To this end, this year’s World Health Assembly requested WHO  to submit to the 75th World Health Assembly in 2022 an implementation roadmap for 2023-2030 on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases to support countries in their decisions to prioritize actions to accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal target 3.4 to reduce premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases by one-third by 2030.

The ESMO statement also addressed the topic of  ‘Expanding access to effective treatments for cancer and rare and orphan diseases’, previously discussed at the WHO Executive Board meeting in January 2021, and summarized in the WHO Director-General’s Consolidated Report for the 74th World Health Assembly. The World Health Assembly adopted under this agenda item a Resolution on Strengthening local production of medicines and other health technologies to improve access, aimed to enhance quality manufacturing capacity all over the world.

In response to the issues above, ESMO called on governments to accelerate efforts by increasing cancer prevention, harnessing innovative technologies, managing medicines shortages, and expanding access to effective cancer treatments, including those for rare cancers. ESMO urged countries to ensure universal access to a core set of essential, affordable, and effective cancer and palliative care services. As 24% of all new cancer cases are rare, ESMO expressed its willingness to collaborate with WHO and its Member States and to share its over 10 years of experience leading Rare Cancers Europe and more recently Rare Cancers Asia.

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