ASCO continues to expand its international programs, particularly in response to the rising rates of cancer in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In November, ASCO past president Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi reported that the ASCO Board had approved a major expansion of ASCO’s programs to address global oncology priorities. I am pleased to share the news that ASCO volunteers, staff, and collaborators are already making progress on this agenda.
The UICC City Cancer Challenge, in which ASCO is actively involved, is one example. Announced at the prestigious World Economic Forum in Davos in January, the City Cancer Challenge aims to dramatically improve cancer care in select cities in LMICs where the need is greatest. These key learning cities will provide a platform for the international community, including UICC, ASCO, the World Bank, and many others, to work together with local authorities to enhance access to quality cancer diagnostics, treatment, palliation, and supportive care.
The first participating cities will be Asunción, Paraguay; Cali, Colombia; and Yangon, Myanmar.
The first stage of the program is a detailed needs assessment of the capabilities, resources, and challenges in each of the three initial cities. ASCO joined the delegations from Asunción, Cali, and Yangon at a launch meeting in Geneva on World Cancer Day (February 4), and the commitment and enthusiasm on the part of the city representatives to working with the international community were clear.
I look forward to sharing future updates on this exciting initiative and other new directions for ASCO as outlined in its global oncology strategy. In the meantime, I welcome your comments and suggestions as ASCO works to make a world of difference in cancer care.