Page 0006

CANCER CONTROL INTERVIEW

6 CANCER CONTROL 2021

Cancer Control interviews Dr Andre

IIbawi, WHO's Technical Officer for

Cancer Control

Andre, can we begin by asking about your background and

how you got to WHO?

For many of my colleagues and for me, working at World

Health Organization (WHO) is an unexpected privilege

and not a planned outcome - it is a unique opportunity and

responsibility to serve communities using a powerful platform

and network of collaborators.

My background is as a cancer surgeon trained in the United

States. During my training, I had the honour of taking three

months to work at UICC as a fellow with support from the US

National Cancer Institute and Breast Health Global Initiative.

My wife, Shannon, came, on sabbatical from her faculty

position in family medicine, to volunteer at WHO.

Upon returning to the United States, my wife and I were

preparing to move to Africa to work as academic clinicians. An

unexpected opportunity to work short-term at WHO opened

up. We felt that we could come and help get something started

then move to Africa. Six months became a year, two years and

now six years.

But, it has been such a privilege to have worked at WHO, to

interface with governments committed to action, to be inspired

by partners and to be moved by advocates. We have seen a

turning of the tide towards oncology being recognized now as

a priority area within public health globally and, increasingly,

an area in which governments are improving care. It has been a

privilege to feel part of this shifting global narrative recognizing

the urgency and humanity in cancer care.

The popular perception is that when it comes to cancer

WHO is only interested in cancer prevention. Is this view

correct?

WHO is the public health agency for the United Nations.

Our primary objective, enshrined in our Constitution, is "the

attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health

as a fundamental right of every human being". This inspiring

ambition is important to understand our functions - that they are not limited to prevention but extend from promotion to

palliation.

When we look at progress in health, with what has driven

improvements in life expectancy, the primary achievements

have been achieved through public health policies and

programmes. This same is true in cancer. A lot of our progress,

particularly in high-income countries, has been reached

because of risk factor reduction and the earlier detection of

cancer.

But, this is not the only dimension. The cancer agenda, as

part of the global public architecture, is broader. Millions of

lives each year are saved because of improvements in access

to quality care. This is the tenet of health for all as part of the

2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Cancer.

We cannot achieve the SDGs without investing more in

cancer control. And, our work at WHO reflects that reality -

we have launched three global initiatives with partners around

the world to catalyze immediate improvements in access to

care and to save lives.

While many cancers can be prevented - and should be - the

reality is an estimated 50%-70% of cancers cannot. There

will be generations of people affected by cancer who deserve

attention and care. And, that providing care, we can drive

prosperity and development for all.

The popular misconception of regarding cancer as entirely

a problem requiring clinical solutions is frustrating because

so many of the buttons one needs to press lie beyond the

control of clinicians.

Yes. You raise an important point. Cancer control, like all of

health, requires a "whole-of-government, whole-of-society

response". This must be our approach to achieve the most

meaningful success, because if we focus only on the areas that

are frequently in the public discourse - whether it be cancer

medicines or advanced technologies for screening - we miss the

opportunity to have a holistic and person-centred response.

André Ilbawi, MD, Technical Officer, Cancer Control; Department of

Noncommunicable Diseases Division of Universal Health Coverage (Communicable

and Noncommunicable Diseases) and World Health Organization

Index

  1. Page 0001
  2. Page 0002
  3. Page 0003
  4. Page 0004
  5. Page 0005
  6. Page 0006
  7. Page 0007
  8. Page 0008
  9. Page 0009
  10. Page 0010
  11. Page 0011
  12. Page 0012
  13. Page 0013
  14. Page 0014
  15. Page 0015
  16. Page 0016
  17. Page 0017
  18. Page 0018
  19. Page 0019
  20. Page 0020
  21. Page 0021
  22. Page 0022
  23. Page 0023
  24. Page 0024
  25. Page 0025
  26. Page 0026
  27. Page 0027
  28. Page 0028
  29. Page 0029
  30. Page 0030
  31. Page 0031
  32. Page 0032
  33. Page 0033
  34. Page 0034
  35. Page 0035
  36. Page 0036
  37. Page 0037
  38. Page 0038
  39. Page 0039
  40. Page 0040
  41. Page 0041
  42. Page 0042
  43. Page 0043
  44. Page 0044
  45. Page 0045
  46. Page 0046
  47. Page 0047
  48. Page 0048
  49. Page 0049
  50. Page 0050
  51. Page 0051
  52. Page 0052
  53. Page 0053
  54. Page 0054
  55. Page 0055
  56. Page 0056
  57. Page 0057
  58. Page 0058
  59. Page 0059
  60. Page 0060
  61. Page 0061
  62. Page 0062
  63. Page 0063
  64. Page 0064
  65. Page 0065
  66. Page 0066