The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

Malta launches its part of #TimeToActCancer campaign

Tuesday, 14 September 2021, 17:55 Last update: about 6 days ago

Malta today launched its part of the European #TimeToActCancer campaign, organised by The European Cancer Organisation (ECO).

The campaign is set to place the treatment and prevention of cancer as top priority and thus not allow cancer services to continue being put second to the treatment and prevention of Covid-19 across Europe.

This virtual conference on Tuesday was attended by a number of key stakeholders in the cancer health sector in Malta as well as in Europe.

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Seeing as booster Covid-19 vaccines are now being administered to the immunosuppressed in Malta, all stakeholders are striving to empower all those patients who have been postponing their cancer screening and treatments − either due to fear of contracting the virus or due to their appointments being cancelled − to not give up the fight against cancer and show up to their appointments.

As the acting treasurer of the Maltese Oncology Nursing Association (MONA), Gabriel Zerafa said that during the heightened period of the pandemic in 2020, recovery periods between cancer treatments were being prolonged. On the one hand, they were hoping that the extra recovery time would result in less complications arising and secondly, they were forced to do so seeing as there was a staff shortage − due to them having to restructure their oncology team to ensure the least risk of needing to close of centre if a staff member caught the virus.

Due to the pandemic, 100 million cancer screening tests across Europe were not performed, and an estimated 1 million cancer patients across the EU have been left undiagnosed.

One in 5 less patients across Europe went to their appointments during the first year of the pandemic, 1 in 2 did not receive chemotherapy or surgery during the height of the pandemic and as it stands today, 1 in 5 are still not receiving their necessary treatment.

The pandemic highlighted cancer treatment shortages that were already present before the pandemic.

Thus as Mark Lawler, co-chair, special network on the impact of covid-19 on cancer, European cancer organisation said, further to restoring cancer treatment in the EU to what is was before the pandemic, they are aiming to better the overall quality of care for cancer treatments.

This campaign seeks to give equal rights to information, access, reintegration, rehabilitation and quality of life, to all cancer patients, he said.

Plans for this are being enacting through procuring better equipment, medicines, innovative technology, embedded data collection, rapid deployment of cancer intelligence to enhance policy delivery and address the lack of cancer treatment employees, he added.

Chris Fearne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Malta, said that these initiatives will ensure the country is better prepared for any future health care system crises so that cancer treatment will never have to take second place.

Thus, he stated that health budgets need to be top priority for the country as the catch up of cancer treatment amongst other is going to require a large quantity of resources.

On her part, Roberta Metsola, MEP (EPP) and member of the committee on the environment, public health and food safety stated that the EU is not only fighting cancer but endeavouring to beat the disease, starting off by more funds for better distribution of treatment and access to medicines.

“We want to be the generation to beat cancer,” she said.

Malta was 5th’in line to launch their leg in the #TimeToActCancer campaign leading up to the European cancer summit of 2021 being held on the 17 and 18 Novemeber)

Website: TimeToActCancer.com.

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