Across Europe, the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on citizens' health and overall wellbeing are evident. Besides the suffering and death related to the virus and to the economic impact of needed measures, it is also becoming clear that the COVID-19 emergency is leading to significant excess deaths in other diseases, including cancer.
Recognising this, the European Cancer Organisation, the largest multiprofessional cancer organisation in Europe, also comprising of 20 European patient organisations, has established a Special Network on the impact of COVID-19 on Cancer to be co-chaired by two Board members. Dr Mirjam Crul, Vice-President of the European Society of Oncology Pharmacy, and Prof Mark Lawler, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Digital Health at Queen’s University Belfast, will co-lead this significant initiative.
Speaking on this important development, the European Cancer Organisation President, Dr Matti Aapro, said: “We need to undo the damage to cancer care that COVID-19 has caused. For this reason, the European Cancer Organisation has launched a Special Network on the impact of COVID-19 on Cancer to collaborate on dealing with the identified challenges. I invite all to sustain the efforts of Board Members Mirjam Crul from the European Society of Oncology Pharmacy and Mark Lawler from Queen’s University Belfast who will lead this work. My team and I are already beholden to the passion and commitment they are displaying for this initiative.”
The Special Network will amplify the evidence base of the adverse effects of COVID-19 on cancer care across Europe, as well as facilitate agreed recommendations to put to key decision-makers at this time of urgent need. The Special Network will build consensus on agreed actions in Europe on how we both undo the current damage from COVID-19, but also create a more resilient future, in collaboration with many stakeholders besides our Member Societies and Patient Advisory Committee.
Dr Mirjam Crul said: “The large number of professional societies and patient advocacy groups that are united in the European Cancer Organisation give us all the required knowledge and experience to design novel innovative ways to provide optimal cancer care in the COVID-19 era. I look forward to contributing to building sustainable and affordable solutions for our patients with cancer, considering social distancing rules and the lessons learned during the peak of the pandemic.”
“I am exceedingly proud to be invited with my co-chair Dr Mirjam Crul to lead this initiative,” said Prof Lawler. “COVID-19 does not respect national borders so it is important that collectively as Europeans we address the universal challenge of COVID-19 and develop sustainable solutions that protect and benefit the European cancer patient. This Special Network represents a significant opportunity to stop Cancer becoming the Forgotten C in the battle against COVID-19.”