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COVID-19: Message from Editorial Board Member Matti Aapro, President of the European Cancer Organisation

Authors: Dr Matti Aapro, President of the European Cancer Organisation Published Online: March 30th 2020

Thursday 26 March 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As I am writing this to you, the whole of Europe – indeed the world – is dominated by the impact of the COVID-19 virus. This unprecedented event is putting enormous strain on health systems and healthcare professionals across Europe, and no doubt you and your colleagues are trying to cope with its consequences. We, as an organisation, stand ready to support our Member Societies, patient advocacy groups and other stakeholders during this difficult time.

Together with the new Board of Directors, our 28 Member Societies and Patient Advisory Committee, we started 2020 with a freshly minted four-year Strategy of the European Cancer Organisation, developed after 10 months of consultation with our members. What came out strongly from that process is not only the need to bring together actors in cancer care to give one voice on certain key policy issues, but also the value in convening interested parties around complex topics where joint work can help overcome persistent obstacles to progress.

We now are launching eight ‘Focused Topic Networks’ of our Member Societies and our Patient Advisory Committee members, but crucially, also invited stakeholders, EU players and our ‘Community 365’ contributors. This expansion of the @EuropeanCancer family to help problem solve on a bigger scale is very welcome. I pay particular tribute for that development to Professor Philip Poortmans, the Past-President of the European Cancer Organisation. He was instrumental in seeing this need, and in gaining member support for the arising new Strategy. His devotion to seeing this task through was singular and I am in his debt.

The first Network to be launched was ‘HPV Action’, dedicated to achieving the elimination of all HPV caused cancers in Europe as a public health problem. This is a case study of where a range of small steps – on vaccination uptake, on screening, treatment and awareness – when put together, could achieve an enormous whole, well within our own lifetimes. But many different professions and interest groups have their role to play, and that means bringing people together for unified purpose.

I am delighted to share news that Professor Daniel Kelly, Past President of the European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS), and Rui Medeiros, Vice-President of the Association of European Cancer Leagues, are now co-chairing the HPV Action Network, with the full Steering Committee close to completion. The next two networks to launch will be Treatment Optimisation and expansion of our Quality Cancer Care initiative, with early organising teleconferences with @EuropeanCancer members underway. Thereafter, Networks on Digital Health, Prevention, Inequalities, Survivorship and Quality of Life, and Workforce will be developed.

This means that as the EU Cancer Mission and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan are rolled out, we will have communities of action ready to input, and ready to implement. Ready to inform about the hundreds of steps already taken. Ready to advise on what is required to reach the next level.

This is @EuropeanCancer as chef d’orchestre, elevating and promoting member work and initiatives, helping wider connections and collaborations to be made, and assisting all in working together to drive the positive change we all aspire for in cancer care.

Best wishes
Dr Matti Aapro
President of the European Cancer Organisation

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