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Under the 2023 World Cancer Day theme “Uniting Voices and Taking Action” The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Middle East and Africa (PhRMA MEA), the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO) and the Personalised Cancer Care Alliance (PCCA) joined forces to debate how individualised cancer care offers a new promise to cancer patients.

Precision medicine and Personalised Cancer Care (PCC) are revolutionizing the fight against cancer. How this impacts the way patients receive care and their quality of life was the subject of discussion during the webinar on February 1, 2023.

The webinar panelists Dr Guy Fones, Head, of Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs, World Health Organisation (WHO), Hana Chaar Choueib, Board of Directors Member at Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) & General Manager at Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL), Kawaldip Sehmi, CEO, International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO) and  Abigail Amit, Director of Patient Engagement and Innovation – Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa – Merck Sharp & Dohme GmbH and PhRMA MEA Patient Engagement Lead, shone a spotlight on how PCC and precision medicine is empowering cancer patients to take a more active role in their therapy.  Established to enable the right treatment to be given to the right patient at the right time, this model of care’s ultimate objective is to provide better outcomes, improved patient safety, and a reduced risk of adverse events.

“Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020 – a figure that equates to nearly one in every six deaths.[1]Personalized Cancer Care (PCC) along with precision medicine, offers the promise of refining treatment decisions for those diagnosed with certain types of cancers,” said Gertraud Eckart, Director Oncology Policy – Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa (EEMEA) – Merck Sharp & Dohme GmbH and Lead of the PhRMA MEA Oncology Policy Task Force.

Hosting the webinar, which saw the participation of over 200 audiences logging in from around the world, Eckart explained that her organisation was working hard to spread awareness of personalised healthcare and to generate an understanding of the numerous benefits that it confers for patients, health care professionals and healthcare systems.

Kawaldip Sehmi, CEO of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO), “The Position Paper ‘Personalised Cancer Care in the Eastern Mediterranean Region’ is a first of its kind to put Personalised Cancer Care in the spot light with thought pieces from scientists and key leaders in the field as well as policy recommendations targeting the overall PCC scene in the region.

This paper was produced with the help and support of patients’ organizations and civil society in the region, making it a seminal reference when it comes to Personalised Cancer Care with “actual” patients’ voices being integrated within the paper. It provides a comprehensive road map and a way forward to make sure that Personalised Cancer Care will be accessible to all patients in low- and middle-income countries.”

Sehmi summed up the alliance’s concept of PCC with ‘5 Ps’ – predictive, preventative, personalised, participatory and pre-emptive. Predictive relates to better identification of those at risk of developing cancer; preventative involves health education and promotion campaigns; participatory means ensuring that individuals are actively involved in their cancer care; personalised covers using the latest technology to deliver tailored treatments; and pre-emptive focuses on empowering health systems to tackle situations before they deteriorate.

He also highlighted the Personalised Cancer Care Alliance’s latest proposals for the EMR, a region designated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) comprising 22 member states in the Middle East and North Africa – from affluent oil-rich states to impoverished developing countries. He used the discussion to call for unity in delivering cancer care to the region’s roughly 730 million people.

“This year the WHO marks its 75th Anniversary. It’s a great time to evaluate and re-orientate our cancer care for the next 75 years by investing in personalised cancer care health technologies and approaches, exploiting genomic medicine, digital healthcare, artificial intelligence, and machine learning so that we can get our cancer diagnosis and its treatment for the right patient, at the right time, and treating it with the right treatments,” Sehmi added.

World Cancer Day 2023 is the second year in a three-year ‘Close the Care Gap’ campaign. For this year’s edition, the webinar addressed the 2023 theme of “Uniting our voices and taking action”, by introducing the recent report on Personalised Cancer Care (PCC) – opportunities for patients in the Middle East and Africa.

As part of commemorating World Cancer Day’s “Close the Care Gap” campaign, the webinar addressed the role of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) in implementing and creating global initiatives for reducing inequity in cancer care. In its second year, it highlighted everyone’s important role in uniting their voices & to take action.

“World Cancer Day is not only to raise the voices and shed light on the day but also it is a fight to achieve.  It is a fight to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment for the right patients, at the right time, at the right locations, and make the experience as good as possible for them. It is the call to take action to prevent and educate about cancer. This will yield the right outcomes desired of reducing mortalities and increasing cure rates, hopefully, to reach the UN agenda 2030 targets of Sustainable Development Goal 3. It is the call to build partnerships and joint efforts. It is a reference report for the cancer community to highlight the longstanding inequities in cancer care within and between countries across the world. We are aiming this year to break last year’s records of activities and hopefully with joining hands to close enough of the care gap, if not all, and offer better journeys with cancer for patients worldwide.” said Hana Chaar Choueib, Board of Directors Member at Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) & General Manager at Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL).

Dr Guy Fones, Head, Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs, World Health Organisation (WHO) outlining the importance of the individual with lived experience perspective and the WHO’s commitment on this topic said, “We need to move from the current cancer care model of treatment being something that is done to individuals and instead move to a holistic system that meaningfully engages and better integrates those with lived experience of cancer as active partners in the process. It is essential to ensure a rights-based approach to health that involves using individuals’ lived experience, expertise, and perspectives to shape the full spectrum of our health services, across promotion, prevention, treatment, and palliative care. Ultimately, this will ensure that our healthcare systems are effective, efficient, and sustainable and crucially can improve health for all.”

Lastly, the discussion included a PhRMA MEA representative, who highlighted how the private sector is leading the ‘Uniting our voices and taking action’ drive in the fight against cancer in the region. PhRMA MEA’s Oncology Working Group and Patient Engagement Working Group has been set up to collaborate with partners worldwide. Abigail Amit, Director of Patient Engagement and Innovation – Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa – Merck Sharp & Dohme GmbH and PhRMA MEA Patient Engagement Lead, outlined what the different cancer groups in the region need to do to succeed in 2023, with the webinar being rounded off with a question-and-answer session with the audience.


Source of original article: Africa Science News (
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