With the death toll from cancer claiming 1.7 million Europeans each year, the United Nations atomic watchdog agency – better know for its efforts to combat the spread of nuclear weapons - is teaming up with countries across the continent on projects ranging from improving nutrition to upgrading radiotherapy equipment.
Health Ministers and experts of leading oncology centres from 27 European countries met at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, this week to work together to combat the disease.
The IAEA has teamed up with European countries involved in its Technical Cooperation programme, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), professional societies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to improve cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
Over the next three years the agency will spend close to $24 million in funding for cancer projects on an expected cost-sharing basis with the governments involved.
Ten radiotherapy "Centres of Competence" are currently being established in Europe with IAEA support within the scope of national and regional Technical Cooperation projects.
Each facility will be capable of treating several hundred patients per year at internationally accepted standards and will serve as a national model for improving radiotherapy in other institutions in the country. During the two-day meeting at the IAEA, 17 additional European countries signalled their desire for a similar national facility.
Relying on more than 30 years of solid experience in providing radiotherapy to developing countries, and to help meet growing needs, the IAEA recently established the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) to take radiotherapy to where it is most needed. The Programme paves the way for the IAEA to seek and direct funds from individuals, charitable trusts, foundations and the public and private sectors to help patients in developing countries throughout the world fight cancer effectively.