Public and private organisations must overcome their “deep-rooted suspicion” of each other and work together to build a new financial model for cancer care worldwide, a leading expert has urged.

Globally, the current model of financing cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and outcomes is broken, Professor Peter Boyle, president of the International Prevention Research Institute, has told the European Cancer Congress  (ECCO).

“While progress in oncology has been remarkable in recent decades, and the future looks very promising, not every cancer patient is able to benefit from the advances that have been made in treating the disease – the contrast between high-resource and low-resource countries is dramatic,” said Prof Boyle, who is also director of the Institute of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University.

Official forecasts put the Indian and Chinese populations as reaching 1.45 billion each by 2028, and, by 2050, Nigeria’s population to have overtaken that of the US. These increases, and the adoption of western lifestyle habits, will make the three nations the biggest contributors to the global burden of chronic disease. Also, the surge in cases expected in populous countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam will be the driving force behind the rise in the global burden of cancer, he added.

While the rights of cancer patients can be achieved by implementing and adhering to the “four pillars of oncology” - prevent all cancers that can be prevented; treat all cancers that can be treated; cure all cancers that can be cured; and provide palliation whenever palliation is required - no single source of philanthropy has the means to achieve this, he said. 

“It is impossible to avoid the conclusion” that a major public-private partnership is necessary to make the necessary progress with the briefest delay, said Prof Boyle.

“Such a partnership needs the commitment of the pharmaceutical industry and the wide span of industries involved in diagnostic and treatment technology. It also needs the commitment of governments and non-governmental organisations to be effective, and its effectiveness will be measured against the success in delivering the most appropriate treatment and care to every cancer patient.” 

Working to improve public health must cease to be viewed as a competition, and public and private organisations have to overcome their “underlying suspicion of each other” and work to develop an effective collaboration to improve cancer care and outcomes worldwide, he urged.