Princess Dina Mired, President-elect of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is calling on the international cancer community to change the way it supports developing countries.
Princess Dina who was Director of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation in Jordan for 15 years, says that despite good intentions, most international aid for cancer does not start from the needs of the country.
“They come already with the mind-set that we want to do this and this and this, and if we don’t fit into that then either we don’t get the support or we just accept [it] because we are so happy for any support.”
Interviewed at the World Oncology Forum in Lugano, Princess Dina said that developing countries need help to learn how to plan cancer control, but plans must be based on their own priorities.
“Many countries in the developing world don’t have the human resource expertise in management – how to strategize, how to formulate and customise national cancer control.
“What happens when you don’t have a plan? You just get ad hoc achievement, ad hoc implementation. But really it becomes like a drop in the ocean here and there and no impact to be felt.”
At the same time, she said, the global health community also has to plan. “I also saw how the support coming from the global community takes place. It is also very ad hoc. It doesn’t start with the needs of the actual country.”
She pointed out that her EMRO region alone contains 23 countries with different cultures, levels of wealth and cancers – from Djibouti and Afghanistan to the Gulf, Jordan and Egypt. Each country needs a unique cancer control plan.
Princess Dina is strongly backing C/Can 2025 – the City Cancer Challenge launched by UICC to support selected cities around the world to make and execute comprehensive cancer plans and to reduce inequities in access to quality care. Three cities initially signed up to the Challenge – Asunción in Paraguay, Cali in Colombia and Yangon in Myanmar. They will be joined by four more “key learning cities” to provide insight into how the international community, local civil society, and the public sector can work together to control cancer.
Princess Dina said that the Challenge commits the country to invest in cancer control and for government, NGOs, mayors, private and public sectors all to work together.
“I think that it will work and I certainly when I become president of the UICC I will put all my weight behind this plan because I have been through the experience and the struggle of how to implement cancer control in my country.” C/Can offers free consultancy and support for three years until the city can manage its cancer plan alone.
Princess Dina also called on the WHO to establish a global technical committee to help countries make and achieve action plans.