MEPs Against Cancer
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29 November 2011, MEPs Against Cancer met European Action Against Cancer (EPAAC) Work Package Leaders and DG SANCO for talks on collaboration in cancer prevention and control in 2012.
The meeting took place at a crucial moment in the life of the partnership, as work package (WP) leaders are creating their action plans for 2012 and there is increasing interest in the European Parliament in cancer prevention and control.
MAC Vice-President, Frieda Brepoels MEP welcomed the participants and the opportunity that this meeting provided to bring stakeholders together to identify ways to work together in 2012. Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General of DG SANCO who presented the history of EPAAC from the Commission perspective called for greater overspill to national levels in 2012 and beyond. Both the Commission and ECL agree that there can be far greater co-operation between the MEPs and EPAAC. He also mentioned plans to work more ambitiously on tobacco control for which broad level political support is needed. In addition, it is hoped that the European Code Against Cancer will be revised before the end of EPAAC.
Several work package leaders outlined their plans for 2012 in the areas of cancer prevention and health promotion, screening, research and information and data. Ingrid van den Neuker of the European Cancer Organisation who is leading work package 8 for example called for MEPs to ensure that funding for research is delivered and encouraged politicians to continue to work in partnership as they are currently doing to bring stakeholders together at opportune moments.
Pavel Poc MEP who is already very engaged with the fight against colorectal cancer in particular described his journey from his successful parliamentary declaration to his contribution to the EPAAC prevention tool kit of a user’s guide to colorectal cancer screening. He encouraged us to ‘remain optimistic in the face of thousands of deaths caused by colorectal cancer each year’ and welcomed the opportunity to achieve greater clarity and communications between EPAAC and member states.
The President of the MEPs Against Cancer group, Alojz Peterle MEP was, as ever, enthusiastic and encouraging of the joint action but expressed concerns that the impact on cancer rates was too slow. How could WP leaders speed up the impact on ever increasing rates of cancer in Europe? The response from WP6 on screening and early detection was that the benefits of action being implemented now are already having small incremental benefits. For example, the piloting of screening in certain areas in Europe have already had a direct impact on reducing the cancer burden: as screening programmes are rolled out these will increase. Another area that is being worked on to great effect and demand are schools of screening management, however there is no institutional support for these yet.
Dr Riccardo Capocaccia presented the work package on information and data, especially highlighting the problems with the sub-optimal use of cancer data that has direct negative implications on public health. His work package is responsible, with work package 5 on health promotion and cancer prevention for organising the EPAAC Open Forum 2012 on the 19th and 20th June.
Dr Charles Tannock MEP requested information and advice how we can realistically achieve information sharing across Europe to encourage benchmarking for better standards of care, especially in the UK. Many of the WP leaderes felt that all the systems are in place for such a network, however it can only come together with the cooperation of the EU and member states.
Finally the meeting ended with a call for MEPs to actively engage in EPAAC in three areas:
Presentations from the meeting: