An ambitious European Programme of Work (EPW 2020–2025) – “United Action for Better Health in Europe” has just been adopted by WHO Europe at its virtual Regional Committee Meeting (14-15 September 2020).
ESMO, who provided input to WHO Europe’s open consultation on the EPW, agrees that citizens have the fundamental right to good health and well-being, universal access to care without financial hardship, to live in safe, supportive, and healthy communities, to have healthier choices, and to enjoy health security.
ESMO greets the adoption of the EPW with an official statement at the Regional Committee meeting. The ESMO statement:
- Welcomed the WHO Europe workplan and actions on topics such as those to protect and optimise the health workforce, ensure palliative care services, use digital technologies to bridge healthcare service gaps, and promote prevention initiatives such as tobacco cessation.
- Encouraged actions on ensuring robust referral services between primary and secondary/tertiary levels of care where cancer is treated.
- Emphasised the need to prevent and manage shortages of inexpensive essential medicines, including those on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, because medicines shortages have become a growing public health emergency, highlighted now more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Expressed willingness to collaborate on cancer initiatives throughout Europe with the future WHO Europe EU Ambassador for Cancer.
- Noted that the ESMO COVID-19 and Cancer Portal includes recommendations on cancer patient management that support WHO guidance to combat the pandemic.
ESMO commended WHO’s EPW for its focus on cancer, including implementation throughout Europe of WHO global cancer initiatives that ESMO is currently working on with WHO Headquarters in Geneva, such as the elimination of cervical cancer and improving survival in childhood cancer.
ESMO also submitted an official statement on the topic ‘Mid-term evaluation of implementation of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases in the WHO European Region 2016–2025’.
The goal of this action plan is to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025 and subsequently by 33% by 2030. ESMO closely monitors this progress because cancer is one of the 4 major NCDs.
ESMO welcomed the report but also noted that achieving the goals at a Regional level should not be a substitute for achieving them at a national level.
Also, deaths from NCDs should be reduced across all NCDs, and for cancer this can be achieved by implementing the 2017 WHO Cancer Resolution.
“ESMO supports the important and crucial leadership role that WHO and its Regional Offices must continue to play to coordinate public health efforts with other stakeholders at the global, regional and sub-regional level through support of Member States and supranational dialogues,” says ESMO President Solange Peters. “Tackling public health issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and shortages of inexpensive essential cancer medicines cannot be done by one country alone. The inequalities between countries, and within countries, indicate the urgent need for increased coordination and efficiency,” she concluded.