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WHO-IAEA join forces to fight cancer

Vienna/Geneva, 26 May 2009 -- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today announced the launch of a Joint Programme on Cancer Control, aimed at strengthening and accelerating efforts to fight cancer in the developing world.

The groundbreaking agreement reflects growing international concern over the global cancer burden and its projected increase. Latest statistics indicate that cancer will be among the leading causes of deaths, with more than 70 percent of all cancer deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

"In low- and middle-income countries, cancer overwhelmingly affects the poor. This has huge implications for human suffering, health systems, health budgets and the drive to reduce poverty," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, who signed the Joint Programme agreement together with IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.

WHO and the IAEA have complementary mandates when it comes to fighting cancer. WHO is the leader amongst the UN family of organizations in terms of health improvement for people, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, while the IAEA's expertise in radiation medicine is a vital element of cancer diagnosis and treatment. The Joint Programme will provide the framework for the two Organizations to dovetail their work, building on their areas of expertise to create a more coordinated and robust approach to combating cancer in poor countries. In practical terms, this will mean working with Member States to integrate diagnostic and treatment-related activities into cancer control plans of the country based on WHO cancer control guidelines and strategies in each region.

"The IAEA has long provided radiation technology and expertise to developing countries, but radiotherapy alone cannot halt the growing global cancer crisis," said IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. "The Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) was created to integrate diagnostic and treatment-related activities into national cancer control plans. The Joint Programme with WHO underlines our conviction that only through combined effort and collaboration can we bring hope and relief to those whose lives are threatened by cancer."

Efforts in the joint programme are focusing on six PACT Model Demonstration Sites (PMDS) in Albania, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Viet Nam and Yemen. They will also respond to requests for cancer control assessment and programme development assistance in low- and middle-income countries.


Contact: IAEA Press Office
International Atomic Energy Agency

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