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Icon Group joins new initiative as a founding partner to change the future of cancer in urban populations

A new initiative ‘C/Can 2025: City Cancer Challenge’ (C/Can 2025) was today launched at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos signalling a paradigm shift in the way international organisations will help country and city leaders address the growing burden of cancer they are facing.

The ambitious targets of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) create a timely imperative to invest in non-communicable disease (NCD) treatment in cities, and specifically in cancer treatment.

Addressing SDGs 3, 11 and 17, C/Can 2025 aims to increase the number of people with access to quality cancer treatment and care services in cities around the world with a population greater than 1 million.

This first-of-its-kind multi-sector initiative has been pioneered by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), in partnership with the World Economic Forum, the World Bank and others including city leaders, governments, NGOs, UN agencies, and domestic and international businesses.

With 1 in 3 people directly affected by cancer, the disease is one of the world’s most pressing health concerns, killing over 8 million people per year, more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB combined.

Cancer is estimated to cost world economies as much as US$1.16 trillion annually – a figure that is projected to grow exponentially if action is not taken now to reduce the spiralling growth in the number of cases and the impact on both individuals and healthcare budgets.

The greatest financial and human impact of cancer is felt within low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), those least equipped to respond to this growing burden, but also where rapid urbanisation is bringing significant public health and sustainable development challenges.

The global community has committed to reduce premature deaths from NCDs 25% by 2025 and by 33% by 2030, but to date, much of the effort to reduce mortality has focused on addressing shared risk factors for cancer and other NCDs.

This alone is however insufficient in being able to meet these global targets. With 54% of the world’s population already living in cities, and that number expected to rise above 66% in the coming decades, C/Can 2025 has been conceived to address the urgent need to move political commitments made at the global level into fully functional, comprehensive cancer solutions, which can reach the majority of the world’s population, therefore having a direct and concrete impact on cancer mortality rates and the target to reduce premature deaths by 2025.

In the first phase of the Challenge, C/Can 2025 will target select cities from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where the need is greatest. These ‘key learning cities’ will provide insight on how the international community, local civil society and the public sector can best work together to implement the shared ambitions of C/Can 2025. The first three cities who have committed to the Challenge are: Asunción, Paraguay; Cali, Colombia; Yangon, Myanmar.

“This is a milestone for the health and development communities in that it is the first time such an international coalition of multi-sectoral organisations has been established to work with cities on improving cancer treatment and care,” said Cary Adams, CEO of UICC. “This is a call to action for all sectors to support city governments with populations above 1 million to respond to the rising epidemic of cancer and show the world that, together, we can tackle this disease and save lives.”

Icon Group is Australia’s fastest growing cancer care provider. Last year the Group went international, expanding into Singapore, with satellite services into Vietnam and Myanmar, and signing agreements in China to build 25 radiation oncology centres. Mark Middleton, Icon Group CEO, is delighted to solidify Icon’s commitment to cancer care access via the City Cancer Challenge.

“Icon has grown rapidly in the last 12 months via an unwavering commitment to deliver world-class cancer care where people live. Equity of access was one of our primary reasons for expanding internationally and why we are thoroughly committed to the City Cancer Challenge. As a Foundation Partner we want to make a global difference to countries and cities who don’t have access to cancer care services. If we can achieve this, preventable deaths from cancer will undoubtedly decrease and people will live longer. There cannot be a more important goal to have,” said Mr Middleton.

Also speaking on the panel in Davos today were Michael Berkowitz, President of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities, Christoph Franz, Chairman of Roche and Edwin Macharia, Partner and Regional Director of Africa for Dalberg.

C/Can 2025 anticipates upwards of 80 cities being committed to the Challenge by the end of 2019 and that by 2025, when the UN measures progress against global NCD targets, that the cancer community will be able to show how cities around the world are curing more cancer patients than ever before.

Founding partners of C/Can 2025 include: The World Economic Forum, World Bank, Amecrican Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Icon Group, National Cancer Institute, US (NCI) and University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC) and a coalition of 22 pharmaceutical companies.

Watch the recorded press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos here.

For more information on C/Can 2025, please visit www.uicc.org/CCan2025

About UICC

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is the largest international cancer membership organisation in the world. It has more than 1,000 organisational members in 162 countries.

UICC is dedicated to taking the lead in convening, capacity building and advocacy initiatives that unite the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, promote greater equity, and integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda.

Through UICC’s UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) status, UICC enjoys formal relationships with many UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and others.

UICC has partners across all industry sectors and has access to the world’s experts in practically every domain of cancer control. Over many years, UICC has earned a reputation for being an independent, objective voice for cancer control, willing and able to bring together parties committed to delivering global change through the implementation and scale-up of quality and sustainable programmes that address the global burden of cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

UICC is a founding member of the NCD Alliance, a global civil society network that now represents almost 2,000 organisations in 170 countries.

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