The Pfizer Foundation has announced what it calls a “groundbreaking $33 million multi-year programme” to help fund cancer and tobacco control organisations worldwide.

The foundation, which was set up by Pfizer but operates as “a separate and independent tax-exempt organisation” said that the first round of “global health partnership” grants has been awarded to 15 non-governmental groups in 26 countries. Those nations include Algeria, China, Japan, Italy, Brazil and Argentina.

Cancer accounts for one out of every eight deaths globally, the foundation, topping AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, while the tobacco epidemic killed 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century. Robert Mallett, president of the Pfizer Foundation, noted that “it is only through continuous investments in research for new treatments and medicines that we can overcome this global health crisis. This programme can help us have a measurable impact in advancing cancer and tobacco control efforts around the world.”

One of the groups that will benefit from the grants is the Europe-based International Union Against Cancer and its prersident, Franco Cavalli, said that “the most effective approach to controlling cancer is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. By applying evidence-based research, it is possible to prevent about 40% of the more than 11 million cancer cases that occur each year throughout the world”.