Asia within the Context of Global Health

Within the international community in recent years vast funds have been mobilized as part of global initiatives that aim to couple development challenges and measures to combat disease. There is a strong impression that the focus of concern for the international organizations of Europe and North America is increasingly shifting to Africa, rather than Asia. The same tendency can also be seen within the UICC itself, but in view of the fact that Asia accounts for almost half of cancer incidence and mortality in the world today, it is imperative that we raise recognition of the situation relating to cancer in Asia within the UICC.

I have published an Asia Consensus Statement, which details the results of discussion on the degree to which clinical practices in Western Europe could be reasonably applied to Asian countries in the event that Asia adopted the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guideline that is widespread global use.) From the basis of the knowledge gained from these discussions, what can be said is that cancer treatment in Asia is tending to develop in a way where simple differences between developed and developing countries can be seen, and where cultural differences between East and West are not simply accepted. Within the Asian region, based on the histories of the various countries, diverse of methods of cancer treatment are being developed due to various factors, including the melding of globalization and tradition and diplomatic efforts.

In cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), the UICC has initiated activities to support the utilization of essential cancer medicines on a global scale.) Despite the fact that Asia is the region where cancer is growing faster than anywhere else, it seems to have only a peripheral presence in global health discussions, which are being advanced mainly in the West. It is therefore essential to ensure that the real picture of cancer in Asia, which is currently not accurately understood, is conveyed clearly to the UICC, and also that the differences between cancer in Asia and in the West are highlighted.

As director of UICC-ARO, my aims for the organization are simple: “To define a clear vision for UICC activities aimed at tackling cancer in Asia. Also, to ensure that this vision can be crystallized, to plan and implement information gathering and activities (support) for academic meetings and gatherings, and present the evidence gained from such efforts to UICC headquarters.” Cancer is a disease that is closely linked to various challenges, including political, economic, diplomatic and cultural challenges. In a sense it could be said that “Cancer is like a mirror that reflects society.”)

It is my conviction that the responsibility of UICC-ARO is to ensure that this mirror, which is currently skewed towards the West, can also come to accurately reflect the real picture in Asia.