World Cancer Day 2008

4 February 2008

PACT Joins Global Initiative to Raise Cancer Awareness

PACT used the occasion of World Cancer Day to raise cancer awareness among colleagues and visitors to the Vienna International Centre, home of the International Atomic Energy Agency and other UN organizations. A special information stand mounted in the building's main concourse, the Rotunda, featured a gallery of photographs from PACT pilot project locations depicting the faces behind the raw cancer statistics. Videos related to the work of PACT and its partners in helping developing countries fight cancer were shown throughout the busiest part of the day. And members of staff were on hand to distribute brochures, posters and cancer information to those wishing to learn more about PACT's work and the growing global cancer crisis.

World Cancer Day was launched at the First World Summit Against Cancer in Paris on 4 February 2000. Today, it is coordinated by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), one of PACT's closest partners. As part of UICC's ongoing initiative aimed at children and cancer prevention, this year's World Cancer Day was focused on helping children grow up in a smoke-free environment. In this context, some of the strongest messages were directed at parents: “Second-hand smoke is a health hazard for you and your family. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Give your child a smoke-free childhood.”

The anti-smoking theme was echoed around the world on World Cancer Day. At IAEA headquarters, the VIC Medical Service launched its own initiative to encourage people wanting to give up the smoking habit for good. Services include a VIC Community Smoking Cessation Programme, which takes the form of individual counselling and classes. PACT fully supports this important initiative.

World Cancer Day activities also included an expert symposium organized by the International Agency on Cancer Research (IARC) at its headquarters in Lyon, France. Leading cancer and public health specialists joined IARC Director Dr Peter Boyle to deliver keynote speeches. They included: Dr Ala Alwan, the newly appointed Assistant Director General of WHO for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, Prof Khee Chi Soo, Director of the National Cancer Centre, Singapore, Dr Twalib Ngoma, Executive Director of the Ocean Road Cancer Institute, Tanzania, as well as Massoud Samiei, Head of PACT Programme Office.

On 1 February, a Public Service Announcement (PSA) focusing on the vital work done by the IAEA in the global fight against cancer began airing on CNN International.

Update on PACT activities since World Cancer Day 2007

Since last World Cancer Day, PACT has expanded its collaboration with its partners WHO, IARC, UICC and INCTR through imPACT reviews and the development of PACT Model Demonstration Sites (PMDS). The PACT Programme Office (PPO) formalized its relationships with several of these key international partners through signing PACT Practical Arrangements.

PPO continued to work with national cancer control steering committees and the Health Ministries of the six PMDS (Albania, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Yemen) to finalize national cancer control strategies and develop national action plans for implementation of comprehensive cancer control programmes. ImPACT missions were conducted in all PMDS. PACT received numerous requests for site visits from Members States, and was able to organize expert missions in Syria and Madagascar.

Several national cancer centres in Argentina, Algeria, Brazil, Egypt, France, Morocco, South Africa, Philippines, Thailand, and the United States also collaborated with PACT through regional initiatives and events. More than 20 Member States offered to make their cancer treatment institutions, hospitals and educational centres available to support PACT initiatives. PACT deeply appreciates these offers.

Following the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 to the IAEA and its Director General, a special Fund for Cancer and Nutrition was set up. Among the activities carried out was the Nobel Peace Prize Fund Special Event for Latin America, which was held in Buenos Aires in April 2007. The workshop included training modules on comprehensive cancer control, radiation oncology, research, education and training, and emerging techniques in radiotherapy planning and delivery, providing training to some 80 individuals. The Fund also supported training for 16 participants from Africa on quality assurance in radiotherapy at the Argonne National Laboratory in the United States.

With the support of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), 26 health professionals completed the NCI summer curriculum in cancer prevention in the United States; seven individuals from PMDS countries participated in a training course organized by IARC on cancer registration and epidemiology in France; 24 African nationals participated in a workshop organized jointly by INCTR and PACT in Tanzania with funds from NCI and PACT to assess each participating country's cancer care needs and develop thematic strategies on palliative care; PACT supported the participation of nine West African nationals in a pain control course organized by the French League Against Cancer and AMCC-INCTR in Burkina Faso; and 4 Tanzanians are receiving professional training in radiation oncology, medical physics and radiation therapy technology in South Africa and Canada with support obtained in 2007.

Funds raised by PACT since its inception amount to over USD$3 million. An external study to develop a fund-raising strategy for private-public support of the PMDS and regional projects is expected early in 2008.

Meanwhile, the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), has established the PACT Fund at NFCR, providing the basis for US-based donors, both individual and institutional, to support PACT initiatives. This fund-raising effort in the United States was launched with a reception at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in conjunction with the Director General's address to the UN General Assembly, and attended by more than 80 leading cancer experts, activists and philanthropists.

In 2007 PACT participated in several regional meetings of the WHO, and major international conferences.