In the framework of the ECONOMIST conference “GREECE’S AGENDA TO COMBAT CANCER”, Laurent Louette, director of public relations and country liaison for the “Vaccines Europe” organisation, noted that “with the assistance of the OECD and the European Commission, we have a clear picture of the countries’ profile in relation to cancer, but also the inequalities surrounding it. “Our mission is one: it is public health,” noted Laurent Louette, adding that “we want to have a Europe that will not have cases of cancer, which can be prevented through vaccination, and I think that in the long term we will have effective vaccines for HPV and other viruses.”
“We have the unique opportunity at the moment to offer a Europe free of cancers, which can be prevented, so that the next generations, the adults of the future, will be free from this risk,” Louette emphasised and specified two bundles of measures in this direction. Specifically, the first package consists of “national vaccination programmes with the appropriate infrastructure to offer convenient and free access to vaccination with certainly adequate and sustainable financing.” The second set of measures focuses on better knowledge, because “when you know what’s going on, then you can improve it,” as Louette explained. “Right now we have some data in Europe but it’s kind of messy. We need to have a clear picture of the performance of each programme. The role of inequalities is also important. Some countries perform better than others. Greece is somewhere in the middle. As far as HPV for girls is concerned, it is at 75%, we are far from the 90% goal, but it is in the right direction”.
On her part, OECD Health Economist Caroline Berchet said via a video call: “We are working with the European Commission to develop a cancer profile for each country to monitor what are the inequalities that exist in the territory of Europe.”
In order to deal with cancer, we must prevent it, and this is not just about prevention and early diagnosis, but also health education that starts in school, Alternate Health Minister Mina Gaga said on Tuesday, speaking at the ECONOMIST Conference on Greece’s agenda in the fight against cancer.
She talked about the steps that have been taken in Greece and what needs to be improved. She made special reference to the rapid interconnection from primary to tertiary units so that there is a timely response. “The operating limits of the public sector should be increased so that patients have the choice of the public or private sector,” the minister added.
Gaga also talked about the existence of oncology councils and telemedicine interfaces, so that patients don’t have to move. “An important part is the support that we have in Greece,” she underlined
“In order to solve patients’ issues, we need respect for the patient, solving their problems and cooperation,” she said, while she also referred to the issue of evaluation and interconnection by stressing that the way everyone in the health system deals with the patient is important, and that patients must be listened to.
Health Minister Thanos Plevris spoke at the ECONOMIST GREECE’S AGENDA TO COMBAT CANCER conference that started on Tuesday in Athens.
At the beginning of his speech, he referred to the recent train tragedy, saying that the whole country is in mourning and especially the people who have lost their children, “before whom we must stand with a reticence and sense of shame, as we must do things better from now on.”
He pointed out that, after the pandemic, all countries expect an explosion of new cancer diagnoses, because in these three years the tests that should have been done were not done. Referring to the three-part treatment of cancer in Greece, he said that this is “prevention, diagnosis and treatment and patient survival”. Already, as he pointed out, there are three organised cancer prevention programmes and 6,113 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the early stages
Plevris underlined that these programmes will be extended to other forms of cancer, while referring to the issue of diagnosis, he said that it will be shorter and more accurate with better infrastructure. Speaking about treatments, he stressed that “patients should have innovative treatments” and spoke of increasing budgets to make this happen. Already, he continued, “home nursing and palliative care for oncology patients are also starting, which are among our priorities, as well as new technologies as we already have the register for childhood cancer ready and the goal is to soon have the overall registry for cancer in our country”.
As the health minister explained, “the goal is for children born after 2025 to never smoke in their lives”, while referring to the personal doctor he said that it is of key importance as he is the doctor who will monitor the prevention programmes. He also stated that it is not only a Greek but also a European goal “to eliminate cervical cancer in the coming years, but also to prevent other forms of cancer through vaccination and other methods, without having to treat it.
Mary Bussell, manager health policy and insight at Economist Impact and lead of the Economist Group’s ‘Vaccine Ecosystem Initiative’, referred to the programmes and actions that countries must develop to combat cancer, opening the proceedings at the ECONOMIST conference on Tuesday regarding Greece’s agenda in the fight against cancer.
As she noted, the pandemic highlighted the inequalities even more, mainly in detection and early diagnosis but also in delays in treatments. “We are committed to continuing efforts and strengthening ways of working together to better manage cancer and improve outcomes,” she pointed out and added: “In 2012, 12 million new cases of cancer were recorded worldwide, meaning one in five had this diagnosis and the most common cancers are breast, lung, rectal and prostate. Through prevention programmes, a large percentage of cancers can be prevented.”
Speaking about smoking, she underlined that Europe has the highest percentage of smokers in the world, 209 million smoking, of which half are expected to die prematurely as a result.
She said that governments are committed to creating prevention and diagnosis programmes. “We should not wait for people to get sick, there should be prevention,” she said, while noting the need to improve policies and support systems that ensure sustainable and equitable access.
ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ / General Consulate of Tampa
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