Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan: The challenges for Greece

Athens, January 23, 2023.- The Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE), in cooperation with the Athens European Parliament Office, organised a work meeting today in the premises of the E.P. Athens Office, involving representatives from the Ministry for Health, the medical, scientific and academic community, patients’ organisations and the pharma industry. This was perhaps the first time that all involved stakeholders, including the pharma industry, have openly and constructively discussed the issues of cancer prevention, management and fight against. The main axes of the debate were the creation of a National Action Plan against cancer, the importance of pre-screening test programmes, the value of pharmaceutical innovation and equitable access to both tests and innovation, as well as the exploitation of European and National resources.

The Minister for Health, Mr. Thanos Plevris, opened the discussion and stressed the importance of the cancer prevention programmes implemented by the Ministry, while also acknowledging the necessity to secure additional resources for the era post the Recovery Fund. He underlined, in tandem, the value of the new Ministry’s interventions for Public Health through the introduction of the institutions of family doctor, home care and paliative care. Finally, the Minister pledged to pursue this institutional debate.

The President of SFEE, Mr. Olympios Papadimitriou, pointed out that Public Health is currently under the spotlight of the debates in the European Commission, stressing that the EU Beating Cancer Plan constitutes the first (and perhaps the last) integrated – holistic approach to the disease, starting with prevention and reaching the issue of life quality for both patients and survivors as well as care-takers. He underscored, in parallel, the importance of co-shaping an integrated patient-centered cancer prevention, management and fighting policy.

The European Beating Cancer Plan is based on 4 main pillars – prevention, timely detection, diagnosis-treatment and life quality for patients and survivors – and is actually the first paneuropean effort for a holistic approach to the disease, with the participation and co-operation of all stakeholders.

The debate was moderated by the journalist Stamatis Zacharos and was held with the paricipation of: Eirini Agapidaki, Secretary General of Public Health, Katy Apostolidou, President of ELLOK (Hellenic Cancer Federation), Nikos Dedes, Founder-President of the Greek Patients Association, Meletios-Athanassios Dimopoulos, Rector of EKPA (Athens University), Eleftherios Zervas, Secretary General of EPE (Hellenic Thoracic Society), Marios Themistokleous, Secretary General of Primary Health Care, Stelios Kambouropoulos, Nea Dimokratia European MP, Yiannis Kotsiopoulos, Secretary General of Health Services, Flora Bakopoulou, President of HTA, Afroditi Nonni, President of EEPA (Hellenic Society of Pathological Anatomy), Nikos Polyzos, Professor of Health Services Administration at Demokritio University, Zenia Saridaki, President of EOPE (Hellenic Society of Medical Oncology – HeSMO), Kyriakos Souliotis, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Peloponnese, Chara Kaini, Head of the Planning, Monitoring and Administration of Medicines Department in EOPPY, Cornelia Zanetti, Secretary General of Takeda, Lionel Picard, Director General of Sanofi, Elena Chouliara, President and CEO of AstraZeneca, Kostas Papayiannis, President and CEO of Novartis, Spyros Filiotis, Vice-president & Director General of Pharmaserve-Lilly, Michalis Cheimonas,  Director General of SFEE.

All the participants referred to the need to elaborate a complete and integrated National Action Plan against Cancer and to immediately implement it, while the important priorities should be: enhancing primary health care, extending information and Press Bulletins on prevention programmes covering childhood and adolescence, access to innovative treatments, reimbursement of biomarkers, smoking cessation programmes and information campaigns against smoking, the creation of a National Cancer Registry, changes in the organisation of oncological clinics and a better organisation of Clinical Trials, acknowledging their values for patients.

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