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13-11-2019 15:05

Address by the Minister of Health, Mr Constantinos Ioannou, at the Scientific Meeting on improving cancer patients’ care through clinical trials

Cancer is a multicausal disease that manifests in various ways, therefore there is a need for different approaches regarding treatment. Available treatments that are effective for a group of cancers are not ineffective for other groups or sometimes they cannot control the disease anymore. On the same time, each year, in the EU around 640,000 people are diagnosed with rare cancers.

The need for personalised medicines and innovative solutions becomes more and more essential. And there is one way that leads to the future of effective cancer care: The integration of transnational research innovations into clinical practice. Studies have proven that only research can enhance our understanding of cancer and help clinicians to offer new treatment methods.

Having said that, I would like to thank the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre for hosting today’s meeting, which aims to promote the collaboration of the Centre with the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center on clinical trials. This promising scientific network will represent a forum to share best practices and mutual knowledge and will prove an invaluable investment in the quality of cancer care.

Since 2005, the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre has been our state-of-art cancer care provider. Ever since 2017, it conducts early clinical trials for patients, who have exhausted conventional treatment options giving them the opportunity to access new treatment methods.

The Ministry of Health acknowledges the continuous efforts of the Centre for excellency and deployment of patient-centered care. This was also one of the factors considered upon issuing a National Designation Letter to the Centre for the purpose of participating in a European Reference Network as an affiliated partner in cooperation with Karaiskakion Foundation. 

The rising importance of cancer, given the continuously increasing incidence, needs to be addressed through joint activities, such as collaboration of institutions and experts. This event today, gives us the opportunity to explore all the possibilities for cooperation on this major public health issue.

According to our Cancer Registry, cancer is the second cause of death in Cyprus and there are more than 3,500 new cases of cancer every year.

The main objectives of our Strategy are to reduce cancer incidence and mortality and to improve cancer services, by integrating “the health in all policies” approach and by providing the opportunity for collaboration among all stakeholders.

This was achieved through the development of the first National Cancer Strategy, which represented the first organised response of the state to this disease.

All the bodies that are involved in cancer prevention and control have cooperated in the development of this Strategy, which was based on four pillars: prevention, early diagnosis and therapy, research and rehabilitation.

This first Strategy was recently revised through our National Cancer Committee and new approaches regarding governance were introduced, such as MDTs and Comprehensive Cancer Networks. Our vision is to establish a new institution. A National Cancer Institute that will coordinate all cancer entities in a holistic approach. 

These new developments will enhance initiatives like this and I am convinced that this cooperation will pave the way for the exchange of views on cancer between the best professionals and the scientific community. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to the scientists of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre and to our people at the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre for the establishment of this collaboration.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to the Ambassador of Israel, Mr Sammy Revel, whose attendance to this meeting shows his commitment on this important issue.

Finally, I wish you all a fruitful and effective collaboration.