Making a Difference in Cancer Prevention and Control
L-R: Nessa Childers MEP, Pavel Poc MEP, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Alojz Peterle MEP, Sakari Karjalainen, Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL), Francesco de Lorenzo, European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC)
MEPs against Cancer (MAC) European Parliament group celebrate 10 years of all-party collaboration on cancer
Brussels, 9th December 2015
Founded in 2005 by MAC President Alojz Peterle MEP, the group aims to facilitate all-party collaboration on cancer policy, with the aim of reducing the cancer burden in Europe.
The event brought together MEPs from various political groups, including MAC President Alojz Peterle MEP and MAC Vice Presidents Nessa Childers MEP and Pavel Poc MEP, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, President of the Association of European Cancer Leagues Dr Sakari Karjalainen, and President of the European Cancer Patient Coalition Professor Franceso de Lorenzo.
The MAC group has three strategic aims for its work on cancer policy in the current Parliamentary legislature. These are promoting prevention, reducing mortality by ensuring equitable access to high quality treatment and care, and ensuring a good quality of life for cancer patients and survivors.
Speaking at the anniversary event, MAC President Alojz Peterle MEP outlined his vision for the future to have a national all-party cancer group in each member state. Mr Peterle hopes to achieve this goal by collaborating with ‘MAC Ambassadors’, a representative MEP from each member state who would facilitate the creation of a MAC group in their national parliament. This would also help to enhance the cooperation between EU and national health policies and strive to reduce inequalities in Europe.
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Dr Vytenis Andriukaitis added that the European Commission is committed to an efficient and effective EU cancer control policy. “Our goals are – and will remain - to prevent cancer where we can, and to improve the prospects of cancer patients through early diagnosis as well as appropriate information and care. The MEPs Against Cancer group will continue to be a reference partner in our common efforts and actions against cancer in the European Union.”
As President of the Association of European Cancer Leagues, Dr Sakari Karjalainen noted the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration between policy makers and civil society. ECL is honoured to provide the Secretariat for the MAC group, and also to be a partner in the European Commission Joint Action for Comprehensive Cancer Control (CanCon). Being able to work with such supportive policy makers and allies ensures that cancer remains high on the political agenda, which ultimately benefits citizens and cancer patients themselves.
Professor Francesco de Lorenzo, President of the European Cancer Patient Coalition outlined the existing hurdles we have yet to overcome. We are fortunate that cancer survival has increased, but policies should be adapted to suit the needs of cancer survivors in readapting to normal life. On a European level, much work remains to be done to close the ever existing, unacceptable disparities between EU countries in terms of access to screening programmes and treatment.
MAC Vice President’s Nessa Childers and Pavel Poc also outlined how the MAC group has facilitated their work on cancer policy. MEP Childers noted her particular focus on breast cancer screening programmes to be widely implemented across the EU, as well as her work on promoting transparency and access to medical treatment. MEP Poc noted his particular focus on colorectal and pancreatic cancer, two issues which require urgent and increased attention among the policy community both at EU and National level. MEP Poc has facilitated this in his native Czech Republic, by contributing to the creation of colorectal cancer population-based screening programmes which are now in place there. MEP Poc outlined the urgent need to improve pancreatic cancer prognosis and survival through increased research and cross-sectoral collaboration.