Launching of the National Cancer Treatment Guidelines

20 Mar 2013

Launching of the National Cancer Treatment Guidelines




Mr. Robert Watkins

UNDP Resident Representative


Wednesday March 20, 2013



Excellency Minister Ali Hassan Khalil,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

            Good health represents one of the most fundamental pillars of human development. And it is no secret that cancer represents a global challenge to good health, and therefore human development, of enormous proportion. Knowing no boundaries, cancer affects people across every region and socioeconomic background. It is reported that approximately one in every eight deaths worldwide today is attributable to cancer – in other words more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. And this burden is grow­ing rapidly; by 2030, due largely to population growth and aging alone, more than 21 million new cancer cases and 13 million cancer deaths are anticipated annually. With further urbanization and economic development, behavioral and lifestyle changes such as smoking, poorer diets, physical inactivity, and adjustments in reproductive patterns will likely exacerbate this burden further.

            We now know that much can be done to prevent and treat cancer effectively. According to the World Health Organisation, some 30% of cancer cases could be prevented through global and local efforts to raise awareness about prevention and early detection, healthy lifestyles, providing personalized and comprehensive treatment and advocating the provision of palliative care. The past decade has accordingly witnessed significant improvements in public awareness around cancer globally, and Lebanon is no exception through the efforts of the Ministry of Health and civil society awareness programs.

             For these reasons, it is an honor to be with you today to help launch the 2nd edition of the National Cancer Treatment Guidelines, following the successful 1st edition of the Guidelines launched with our support in 2010. The implementation of these Guidelines through care subsidized by the Ministry of Health has gone far in helping ensure the consistent application of international standards of care for cancer patients, receiving broad recognition for making an important impact on their lives.


            As with the 1st edition, this 2nd edition was first updated and revised by a national committee of seven prominent Lebanese oncologists across a range of specializations. Their work was then further reviewed and approved by a committee of Lebanese expatriate oncologists from highly distinguished international cancer centers.


            We at UNDP were proud to help coordinate this rigorous and exacting process, providing logistical and administrative support through a unique UNDP initiative known as TOKTEN, which stands for the “Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Nationals”. The TOKTEN platform allows Lebanon to benefit from the extensive knowledge and skills of Lebanese experts abroad, whose eagerness to contribute voluntarily to the institutional development and wellbeing of the country, in collaboration with local experts, represents a true national asset.      


Ladies and Gentlemen,


            I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to the successful updating of the guidelines and for all those who provided their support in this achievement. I am particularly grateful to each of the distinguished oncologists of the national and international committees who volunteered their significant time, profound expertise, commitment and perseverance to elaborate these evidence-based optimal treatment protocols in line with international standards: Dr. Fadia Elias, Dr. Joseph Kattan, Dr. Ghazi Nsouli, Dr. Ziad Salem, Dr. Ali Shamseddine and Dr. Ali Taher. Special recognition is extended to the head of the committee Dr Nizar Bitar for his valuable leadership and guidance.


            Of course, this achievement could not have been realized without the valuable contributions of the reviewers from international cancer centers, namely Dr. Ahmad Awada, Dr. Fadlo Khoury, Dr. Anthony El-Khoueiry, Dr. Nizar Tannir, and Dr. Anas Younnes.  I wish to also express my gratitude to the coordinator of the international reviewing committee, Dr. Jean Pierre Issa, for his tireless efforts.  And our gratitude also goes to the advisory support provided to the national committee by a number of outstanding oncologists, in particular Dr. Muheiddine Seoud, Dr. Fadi Geara, and Dr. Arafat Tfayli.  It is also my pleasure to also thank Mr. Monzer Hourani for his financial support and constant encouragement for the completion of this project.

            Finally, I would like to thank Ministry of Health for their excellent partnership and expertise, without which none of this would have been possible.