First President’s Page of Cornelis van de Velde / 21 February 2012
This is my first communication as President of ECCO - the European Cancer Organisation. I am mindful of the huge responsibility that such a role entails. ECCO exists to uphold the right of all European cancer patients to the best possible treatment and care. This involves promoting interaction between all organisations involved in cancer research, education, treatment and care at European level. ECCO represents 60,000 oncology professionals as well as patient advocates through its 24 member societies, and is the only multidisciplinary and multi-professional organisation that connects and responds to all oncology stakeholders Europe-wide.
ECCO consistently promotes multidisciplinarity to the oncocommunity through our flagship congress and engages in policy activities in collaboration with member societies. A strong momentum has been set over the last two years towards this, resulting in many tangible outcomes. Under my leadership, ECCO will continue its endeavours to build foundations for a single voice in oncology through its efforts to influence oncopolicy and the European Cancer Congress.
The future of research in Europe
Europe is facing burgeoning healthcare costs at a time of global economic upheaval. Oncology professionals are not alone in their concern about the future. All healthcare professionals face major challenges in treating an increasingly ageing and diverse population, while being called on to justify the quality as well as the costs of the health care involved.
ECCO believes that it is vital to stress the importance of investing in health research to ensure economic growth and maintain Europe’s research competitiveness. In current times, consolidating expertise and resources across borders and speeding up the translation of discoveries into applications that impact healthcare delivery is essential. That is why ECCO is a founding member of the Alliance for Biomedical Research in Europe (BioMed Alliance), along with the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, European Respiratory Society and European Society of Cardiology. The Alliance represents approximately 200,000 healthcare professionals. Its aim is to provide a unified voice for the biomedical community on the future of research in Europe. All biomedical societies are facing similar problems with respect to funding mechanisms. ECCO and the Alliance intend to help safeguard Europe’s competitiveness in biomedical research through active dialogue with policymakers.
A European initiative that centralises and coordinates biomedical and clinical research, such as a ‘European Council for Health Research’ (EuCHR) will provide significant added-value by addressing the current fragmented research landscape in Europe and help to accelerate the translation of discoveries into applications that impact healthcare delivery.
The EuCHR will ensure expert scientific input on policy from the outset. Working together, we can help advance innovation and competitiveness, simplify funding procedures, encourage participation from more researchers across borders and ensure savings for national health systems.
ECCO is providing leading support for the formation of this Council. A group of key opinion leaders have been invited to provide input on how the EuCHR could be created. MEP Dr Maria da Graça Carvalho is also supporting the initiative and will be providing feedback from the Alliance to the next meeting of key experts on Horizon 2020 at the European Parliament in late February/March.
ECCO has demonstrated the power of multidisciplinarity towards cancer prevention, treatment and care over the years. A multidisciplinary approach towards EU policymakers could be equally effective, especially when combining the weight of the entire cancer community and all health disciplines. By working together in this manner, we can ensure the scientific community has a voice on the future of research in Europe and help to safeguard Europe’s competitiveness in biomedical research. We can make progress towards our ultimate philosophy - that every cancer patient deserves the best.
Cornelis van de Velde
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