WHO and MD Anderson launch a new partnership to reduce the global burden of women’s cancers

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced a formal agreement to establish a new international partnership to reduce the global burden of women’s cancers. The agreement builds on years of collaboration between the two institutions and further promotes their shared efforts to advance global initiatives in women’s cancers, including breast and cervical cancers.

In 2020, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer, with 685 000 deaths, globally. Moreover, in the same year, there were 604 000 new cases of cervical cancer and 342 000 deaths.

Through its cancer initiatives, WHO has been providing support to over 70 governments, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries, on ways to strengthen systems for cancer early detection, timely diagnosis and comprehensive treatment. The WHO Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative aims to reduce new cases by 40% and prevent 5 million deaths by 2030 and the WHO Global Breast Cancer Initiative aims to reduce the global breast cancer mortality by 2.5% per year until 2040, thereby averting an estimated 2.5 million deaths. These integrated global cancer initiatives are being implemented by more than 200 WHO partners around the world.

“Innovations in cancer have proven successful in high-income countries, but unfortunately, many women living with cancer in low-income countries lack access to essential cancer care,” said Bente Mikkelsen, Director of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO. “We are happy to join forces with MD Anderson to save lives by supporting governments to reduce their breast and cervical cancer burden and to improve the quality of individual lives.”

The partnership aims to improve access to quality cancer control programmes for women everywhere. The MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world’s most respected centres focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. This agreement serves as an important step toward MD Anderson becoming a WHO Collaborating Centre.

“Collaborating with WHO aligns with MD Anderson’s mission to provide exceptional cancer care to people in Texas, the country and around the globe through programs that integrate patient care, research, prevention and education,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., President of MD Anderson. “It also aligns with our institution’s strategy and our commitment to building strong international relationships to serve the global community and improve quality of life at the population level. We are honored to join WHO in improving access to quality cancer control and cancer care programs for women everywhere.”

By leveraging one another’s resources, WHO and MD Anderson will advance global initiatives in women’s cancers, promote equity and serve populations in need.

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