Cancer is one of the greatest health challenges of our time, and a leading cause of death in every corner of the world. Within the next two decades it is expected we reach 22 million new cases of cancer each year, the majority of them in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). Without the preventative measures, the disproportionate majority of mortality from cancer will also occur in LMICs, where there is limited availability of screening, early detection, and access to treatment.
As part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Action Plan on Non-communicable diseases, countries around the world are working towards the target of a 25% relative reduction in premature mortality from cancer by 2025. This work ties in to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
R&D biopharmaceutical companies and associations that are member of IFPMA endorse the sustainable development agenda and are committed to making a positive contribution in support of the WHO’s Global Action Plan on NCDs. Within the context of the industry’s “Framework of Action for the Prevention and Control of NCDs”, IFPMA and its members engage in partnerships to promote innovation, availability of care, patient empowerment and capacity building to address cancer around the world.
Doing our part – partnerships that enhance access to cancer care
IFPMA and its member companies and associations work in a number of ways to support the global fight against cancer. In our industry’s first role as researchers and developers of medicines, IFPMA companies today work on over 3000 projects for cancer treatments. These innovative treatments come in addition to a legacy of medicines for cancer currently available in generic form. Since 1980, 83% of life expectancy gains in cancer are attributable to improved treatments.
There are still multiple barriers to overcome to improve cancer care, beyond the scientific challenges related to the complexity of the disease. Addressing cancer requires recognition of its complexity and management throughout the whole continuum of care, including stages such as prevention, diagnosis and palliative care. As such, IFPMA members are engaged in a number of health partnerships with governments, academics, health workers and civil society to address barriers to cancer care in LMICs.
Initiatives include partnering with societies of healthcare professionals to raise awareness of cancers to improve early detection, for example the European Oncology Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week in Russia organized by the Russian Federation of Head and Neck Specialists and Merck. To improve cancer surveillance and early diagnosis, partnerships like BMS’ Bridging Cancer Care and GSK’s Oncology Training in Rwanda see industry experts working with civil society groups, NGOs and governments to train front-line health workers. Training of health workers plays a key role in building the capacity of a country to fight cancer, as does developing its physical infrastructure. As such, IFPMA members including Celgene, Eli Lilly and Pfizer support groups like the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) in Kenya in developing a center of excellence for cancer care in Africa. Expanding access to treatments is also an important consideration, driving partnerships such as the global Novartis’ Oncology Access program and Roche patient access programs in the Philippines and Peru.
Wider industry-wide partnerships, spearheaded by IFPMA, work to prevent mortality from cancer through increased health literacy, awareness and behavioral changes, as well as to develop tools for better cancer detection and control.
The WHO estimates that over a third of cancers could be prevented by avoiding a number of key risk factors, including not smoking, drinking in moderation, maintaining a healthy diet and being physically active. As such, IFPMA partnered in 2014 with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to promote these 4 Healthy Habits, and provide information and tools to change behaviours, promote healthy lifestyles in communities around the world.
A partnership launched specifically to reduce the amount of women suffering from preventable cancers in Latin America and the Caribbean, IFPMA also works with PAHO Foundation to empower women to seek breast and cervical cancer screening and early detection services and improve the quality and completeness of cancer data and reporting. Activities of the Women’s Cancer Initiative are models tried and tested with experts at local level, so that they can be scaled-up for better cancer control plans throughout the region.
You can learn more about these programs and many others by following the link “Cancer” under Partnership Information to the right.
Cancer Care (infographic)
A vibrant pipeline for unmet medical needs (infographic)
World Cancer Day (website)
Union for International Cancer Control (website)