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World Health Organization / United Nations


ESMO is proud to collaborate at the highest political levels with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) on issues related to cancer prevention and control. ESMO has been supporting and promoting WHO’s global initiatives since 2002, and was recognized for its efforts in 2013 when ESMO was granted ‘official relations status’ by the WHO. Based on this status, WHO invites ESMO to participate in WHO meetings, to provide technical advice on WHO projects, and to make official statements that are delivered to all Member States.

With cancer high on global, European and national agendas, ESMO is uniquely positioned to make the voice of medical oncologists heard across the world.

ESMO regularly attends WHO meetings, as well as UN High-Level Meetings related to cancer. ESMO supported the adoption of many WHO resolutions on topics such as improved access to palliative care, increased access to cancer medicines and vaccines, the reduction in premature deaths from cancer by 25% by 2025 and by 33% by 2030, the protection of healthcare workers and cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the achievement of universal health coverage by 2030.

Landmark decisions and reports that ESMO actively supported are the: 

ESMO advocated for the inclusion in these documents of specific actions on cancer, including the need to ensure a core set of cancer and palliative care services in national universal health coverage benefit packages so that no cancer patient is left behind. To assist countries in implementing the 2017 WHO Cancer Resolution, ESMO is collaborating on WHO projects to optimize the cancer workforce, scale up NCCPs, increase access to medicines, improve cancer treatment and care for childhood and cervical cancer, and to promote cancer prevention and healthy lifestyles, in addition to disseminating WHO’s global policy recommendations on cancer prevention and control.

ESMO contributed to the review of the WHO Report on Cancer: Setting priorities, investing wisely and providing care for all, which highlights one example of how ESMO and WHO are working together for sustainable cancer care. The WHO report cites a case study of a joint project with ESMO and the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan, where ESMO reviewed the  country's cancer treatment standards, using the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the European Medicines Agency's medicine indications, the ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines,  the ESMO-Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale version 1.1 and expert peer review. The assessment supported the Ministry of Health in optimizing its cancer treatment protocols and linking them to the national essential medicines list as well as maintaining the country’s long-standing commitment to offer its citizens evidence-based comprehensive cancer care as part of universal health coverage plan.

Find out more about ESMO’s participation in WHO meetings of the World Health Assembly, and UN High-Level Meetings, and read ESMO’s official statements at these meetings on critical issues related to cancer.

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