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Cancer On The Agenda Of The Portuguese EU Council Presidency

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) is proud to announce that it is collaborating closely with the Portuguese EU Presidency on a key European meeting on health care issues, where cancer will be an important part of the agenda.

The ‘Round Table on Health Strategies in the European Union’ (Lisbon, 12-13 July 2007) is one of the most important initiatives launched by the EU Portuguese Presidency within the context of the EU strategy on health policy, focusing on the topic of health and migration. ESMO has been invited by Dr. Joaquim Gouveia, National Coordinator of Oncological Diseases in Portugal, to be a key partner in this meeting for aspects related to cancer.

Under the broad theme of creating a ‘European Health Strategy’, this Round Table will address crucial issues in terms of the EU health agenda, such as facing specific health problems, health determinants, health services and patient mobility.

“The selection of such topics reflects the importance politicians place on assuring best quality healthcare, a service that touches the lives of every single EU citizen, as well as newcomers,” said Pascale Blaes, Director of the ESMO Political Office in Brussels.

The Round Table session on cancer, on Thursday afternoon, 12 July, will be chaired by Dr. Joaquim Gouveia, with prominent participation of Dr. Marija Seljak, Slovenian Public Health Director, and Mr. Alojz Peterle, member of the MAC (Members of the European Parliament Against Cancer). The meeting will open with a welcome address by Prof. Hakan Mellstedt, ESMO President. “The impact of this meeting will influence the future oncology healthcare strategy throughout the European Union,” he said.

Cancer is one of the major causes of disease, morbidity and mortality worldwide. Although great scientific progress has been achieved in oncology and continues to be achieved, cancer remains a huge public health challenge and a tremendous threat.

“ESMO is convinced that it is time to send a strong political signal for a broad alliance and concerted actions for the benefit of patients in Europe and worldwide and considers this event a tangible means for the Portuguese Presidency in this direction,” said Prof. Mellstedt. “The Portuguese representatives, ESMO, the experts and the key forces gathering in Lisbon will call upon the European institutions to put cancer on the political agenda as a priority and will request the national governments to develop policies, including a comprehensive overall strategy, for the prevention and control of cancer.”

The common objective of the meeting will be to create capacity building for developing and implementing effective policies and programs. “Only by sharing expertise and exchanging best practices in Europe, and by advocating together to get support and the appropriate political commitment, we will be able to achieve the expected relevant outcome: survival, better quality of life, and patient satisfaction,” Prof. Mellstedt said.

Appropriate tools will need to be identified for the proposed policies to be effectively implemented. As a main actor in the field, with a wide expertise, ESMO, together with the Portuguese Presidency, will stress the following instruments:

-Comprehensive cancer control plans consisting of a variety of activities and strategic approaches, which are built on large coalitions and involve the necessary sectors

-Population-based cancer registries

-Screening programs

“It will certainly be complicated but is highly challenging,” acknowledged Prof. Mellstedt.

“ESMO is proud to be associated with the Portuguese Presidency Workshop on Cancer and we are sure that it will contribute to the development of a framework for health benefits in Europe,” Prof. Mellstedt continued. “The interactive format of the meeting, and its connections with other specific and global issues under discussion, will guarantee a high value contribution to the global debate on cancer and health in Europe.”

ESMO will continue to support the Portuguese efforts to make this initiative a turning point in the fight against cancer in Europe and the first step towards the hoped for recognition by the national and European authorities of the recommendations agreed upon by the experts gathered together for this meeting.

Financial support for the meeting has been provided by the ESMO Foundation.

Vanessa Pavinato | alfa
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