The Order of Malta and PACT Sign Agreement to Advance Cancer Control in Developing Countries

6 March 2012, Petar Buselic and Iulia-Valentina Iliut

The IAEA's Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta today initiated a partnership focusing on combating the growing cancer epidemic.

His Most Eminent Highness the Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra' Matthew Festing, and Massoud Samiei, Head of the PACT Programme Office, signed Practical Arrangements to support comprehensive cancer control in low and middle income countries.

The Order of Malta, headquartered in Rome, Italy, leads international and medical disaster relief programmes, and provides humanitarian aid and healthcare in over 120 countries.

“Member States have been very supportive of the IAEA's role in cancer control,” said Samiei. “PACT has been working rigorously over the past five years to increase resources to make radiotherapy available for all. The Order of Malta has extensive experience in humanitarian work across the globe with projects in 120 countries, especially in health care and emergency support.”

The collaboration intends to focus on PACT Model Demonstration Sites (PMDS), with an emphasis on Albania. Albania has been a PMDS for over five years and has demonstrated commitment to strengthening its cancer control capacity.

Battling Cancer in Albania

With a population of approximately 3.1 million people and an estimated 7 700 new cancer cases every year, Albania's patient demand greatly exceeds the available services. The IAEA has assisted the country in identifying priority areas for fighting cancer and has helped to mobilize funds for the purchase of a cobalt-60 radiotherapy machine. PACT and its partners have further supported the country in the training and education of cancer specialists and have assisted in raising awareness of cancer among its population.

“We hope the signing of this agreement with the Order of Malta, with a focus on Albania, will bring additional resources and funding to help the Albanian people in their battle against cancer,” said Samiei.

PMDS promote cross-sectorial partnerships between health ministries, national counterparts and international development partners in cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care. PMDS are enabling the Member States involved to combine the individual strengths and resources of the Ministries of Health and their national counterparts, the World Health Organization (WHO) IAEA/PACT, and other partners and stakeholders to achieve maximum impact on priority interventions included in the national cancer control plan.

Background

Launched in 2004, PACT is an IAEA initiative that helps low and middle income Member States in their efforts to tackle the growing cancer crisis by raising cancer awareness, assessing needs, and mobilizing resources. PACT builds on the IAEA's expertise in radiation medicine to help countries develop sustainable and comprehensive cancer control programmes integrating radiation medicine.