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ESMO Urged WHO Member States to Minimize Delays in Cancer Care at the Final Meeting on the Legally Binding International Health Regulations

14 May 2024

ESMO statement at the 8th and final meeting of the WHO Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (WGIHR) on 22 April 2024 stressed the importance of minimizing delays in cancer care to save lives.    

The Covid-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus the impact of cancer treatment delays on patient outcomes because in many countries, healthcare resources had to be reassigned to pandemic response. Delays in cancer treatment is associated with an increase in mortality across all common forms of cancer treatment, while minimising system level delays in cancer treatment initiation can improve population level survival outcomes¹. This is why ESMO has been consistently calling for the International Health Regulations (IHR) and the Pandemic Agreement to include wording on strengthening secondary and tertiary care levels and developing robust referral systems from primary to these levels of care where patients with cancer are predominately treated.

ESMO expressed its commendation for the 194 World Health Organization (WHO) Member States' efforts over the past two years to increase global health security through the amendments to the IHR and the drafting of the Pandemic Agreement, and reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the efforts.

The final amended IHR is expected to be presented to the World Health Assembly for adoption in its 77th session in May 2024 in Geneva.

  1. Mortality due to cancer treatment delay: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2020; 371:m4087 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4087

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