Cancer is one of the main priorities of the European Commission on the health domain. Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan (EBCP) aims to address cancer across the EU, setting out areas of focus and priorities for Commission action, which supports EU Member States. It is based on four key pillars: prevention, diagnosis, treatment and quality of life.
Following up on the launch of a public consultation of the plan on 4 February 2020, the European Commission invited stakeholders to participate in a virtual town hall meeting on 10 September, which EuropeActive had the opportunity to attend.
The meeting was chaired by Professors Jose M Martin-Moreno and Tit Albreht, and facilitated by Dr Josep Figueras, from the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.
It first provided participants with a good overview of the Cancer Plan consultation process and its methodology, which mostly consisted in public and targeted consultations – with patient associations, cancer organisations, health professionals, international agencies, public health, industry representatives, etc., supplemented by expert interviews –, in order to capture a broad range of perspectives of the key cancer stakeholders.
Then, key findings emerging from the consultation were presented, highlighting the EU’s top positioning in identifying best practices and addressing the whole cancer control continuum; the development of patient pathways across a complex and heterogeneous field; the convergence of synergies with other EU initiatives; the European Reference Networks – a pioneering and powerful tool for improving access to expertise, particularly for pediatric and rare cancers, but also for new technologies.
On the other hand, the consultation stressed that access and equity are uneven both within and between countries across Europe, that instruments to support survivors need to be developed and that the EU generally needs to take its place and a bigger role in cancer research, integrating the potential within and beyond its boundaries.
Since the consultation started before the Covid-19 pandemic, the plan also needs to integrate its impact and consequences – particularly on cancer control and care, with a new awareness that these need to be maintained throughout such crises.
The meeting ended up with a panel discussion, allowing for a wide array of questions from the audience.
There’s a growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating the positive role which physical activity can play in the prevention, treatment and recovery of cancer. Therefore, EuropeActive calls on the European Commission to recognize the positive role of physical activity and to give it a prominent role in the Europe’s Beating Cancer plan.