The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses and lack of resilience of European healthcare systems with major consequences for cancer care and cancer patients1. Crucial attention is needed, not only to restore cancer services but to build back better and be prepared to face upcoming challenges.
The Special Network of the European Cancer Organisation on the Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer brings together healthcare professionals, patients, researchers, academics, Community 365 members and others to:
• precisely delineate the challenges that COVID-19 has posed for cancer care2,
• amplify activities undertaken by the European Cancer Organisation’s community to address these challenges, and
• produce recommendations on the most critical and urgent policy needs.
Our Network perceives that both WHO Europe and the European Commission can play a crucial supportive role to national health systems, through provision of timely and targeted advice, guidance and coordination.
We propose the following seven urgent recommendations to National Governments, the European Union, WHO Europe and others:
1. Urgently address the cancer backlog
2. Restore the confidence of European citizens and patients in cancer health services
3. Tackle medicines, products and equipment shortages
4. Address cancer workforce gaps across the European continent
5. Employ innovative technologies and solutions to strengthen cancer systems and provide optimal care to cancer patients
6. Embed data collection and the rapid deployment of cancer intelligence to enhance policy delivery
7. Secure deeper long-term European health cooperation
As a federation of 31 Member Societies and 20 patient groups working in cancer at the European level, the European Cancer Organisation has seen its community strongly impacted by the many challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a response to the issues encountered by oncology professionals and patients , and in order to provide them with much-needed support, our membership has rapidly undertaken a wide range of activities in order to assist practitioners, patients and health systems. This has included:
• creating repositories of available data,
• establishing COVID-19 registries,
• providing trustworthy information and additional support to patients,
• conducting scientific research,
• modifying education and training content,
• creating evidence-based policy recommendations,
• establishing new guidelines on cancer practice during COVID-19.
These resources have been gathered on a single common webpage of the European Cancer Organisation website, which we strongly encourage readers to visit3.