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ESMO and WHO: 14 years of working in partnership on cancer control
  1. Andreas Ullrich1,
  2. Fortunato Ciardiello2,
  3. Gracemarie Bricalli3,
  4. Nathan I Cherny4,
  5. Alexandru Eniu5
  1. 1World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy
  3. 3European Society for Medical Oncology, Lugano, Switzerland
  4. 4Cancer Pain and Palliative Medicine Service, Department of Medical Oncology, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel
  5. 5Department of Breast Tumors, Cancer Institute Ion Chiricuta Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  1. Correspondence to Prof Fortunato Ciardiello; feedback{at}

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Since 2002, WHO and ESMO's proven track record of making progress to bridge the world of clinical oncology with the WHO's cancer control policies has kept cancer high on the world's political agenda. In 2013, after 10 years of working in partnership, ESMO was granted ‘official relations status’ with the WHO, which officially establishes a working relationship of an NGO with WHO. Such a relationship requires regular approval of 3-year work plans by the WHO Executive Board. The work plans harness the very distinct but complementary roles and responsibilities of both partners. Whereas ESMO is one of the leading international professional organisations for specialised physicians who are treating patients with cancer, WHO's cancer control policies are the reference for governments in their efforts to develop national cancer plans and a care delivery system for patients with cancer. By focusing on developing functional and comprehensive cancer plans, and a well-functioning healthcare system, WHO and ESMO seek to implement the WHO cancer management policies, facilitate the work of oncologists, and improve the outcomes of patients with cancer.

Guiding principles for the partnership of WHO with NGOs (professional organisations)

It is stated in the WHO ‘Basic Document’1 that “the objectives of WHO's collaboration with NGOs are to promote the policies, strategies and programmes derived from the decisions of the WHO governing bodies,” which means, for example, decisions of the annual World Health Assembly. The WHO's cancer control policies and guidance are derived from a WHO Resolution on Cancer Control (The 58th World Health Assembly resolution on cancer prevention and control2) and are an integral part of the 2014 World Health Assembly Action Plan on Non-Communicable Disease (NCDs).3 It is important to note that WHO classifies cancer within the broader context of NCDs, that is, diseases which are generally considered non-infective and non-transmittable.

There are two strategies underpinning the collaboration between WHO and …

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