INCTR’s Governing Council and Annual General Meeting 2012

The Annual General Meeting and a meeting of the INCTR Governing Council took place in Brussels on Friday, March 30th and Saturday March 31st. These meetings occurred at the time of an important milestone in INCTR’s development, since after 12 years of support, which allowed INCTR to initiate its activities and develop its branches and network of collaborating units across the world, INCTR and NCI will develop a new relationship in which INCTR will no longer be financially dependent upon NCI, but will become a partner of NCI’s recently established Center for Global Health.

In these days of global financial deficiencies, INCTR will need to develop a broader funding base which provides greater security for its employees and collaborators. Several of the meeting sessions in Brussels, therefore, were focused on fund-raising and increasing efficiency. As the emerging economies become better able to support their own health programs, INCTR will expand its educational and training programs, and become more involved in the development of longer term education, in some cases leading to diplomas or degrees and will help to provide external faculty to expand the health work forces of these countries and to ensure the sustainability of health systems in the developing countries, particularly the poorer countries such as those in equatorial Africa, in which health is a major determinant of economic development. It will continue, however, to make research a major element of its strategies, since without research, no progress can be made, and even now there is a deficit in evidence on which to base effective cancer control programs in the socioeconomically deprived countries. The differences in the resources available to more and less developed countries could hardly be greater, but while the latter are often unable to provide optimal treatment even for patients with potentially curable diseases, even the technologically advanced countries are facing major problems in meeting the ever increasing cost of health care. In part, this relates to an increasing amount of waste as modern technology replaces older types of investigation such as clinical examination, and the developing countries are likely to play an important role in provide models for the high income countries with respect to more cost-effective approaches to cancer control. This is a time of transition, but although there will be many challenges, there will also be a host of new opportunities. INCTR intends to continue to be a truly international organization in which participation is not limited to the wealthy countries, and its programs will entail collaborations between people from widely different cultures and backgrounds, creating, on the one hand, a rich tapestry of philosophies and methodologies from which to choose, and on the other, a forum for the essential debate that must go on with respect to more cost effective approaches to cancer control and the structure of health systems. Increasingly, greater responsibility must be assumed by the patient for his or her own health, but this will be greatly enhanced by new technologies, particularly the broad use of informatics in patient care and professional education. Of one thing, we can be sure. There will always be change, though such changes are not always for the better. INCTR, in preparation for such change has recently appointed, and welcomes, new members to its board (Drs Max Parkin, Alex Markham, Sidnei Epelman, Rajendra Badwe and Pierre Bey). Their expertise and knowledge of cancer of one kind or another in various world regions will greatly assist INCTR to better understand the existing problems and to predict problems that will arise, enabling us to address them more efficiently and also to prepare for the future. The world is changing, and we must adapt, or pay the price of failing to adapt. One thing is certain - the coming years will be particularly exciting and, hopefully, rewarding. Let us prepare for the task ahead in a spirit of cooperation, at once more enjoyable and more productive, for in its absence, we shall achieve little.

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