Cancer can be an “equal opportunity” disease – striking people around the globe without regard to geography or socioeconomic status. But not every country is equally equipped to help all its residents access essential diagnostic and treatment services. The World Health Organization recognized this and took action, enlisting experts from around the world to collaborate on a list of priority medical devices for cancer management.
“This book looks at what devices countries should have at a minimum,” said Gilberto de Lima Lopes Jr., M.D., M.B.A., Medical Director for International Programs and Associate Director for Global Oncology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
The guidance in the publication “is geared more toward low-resource countries starting to develop their health care systems,” said Lopes, who is also associate professor of clinical medicine.
Aims include helping more people access potentially life-saving devices and guiding governments to target resources based on need. Prioritization takes the level of health care delivery (e.g., primary, secondary or tertiary), specialty human resources, infrastructure, local needs and more in each country into account.
Creation of the WHO list of priority medical devices for cancer management also reflects a global expansion in public health priorities. “For many years, people saw public health primarily as infectious diseases and maternal-fetal health. Now in most countries in the world, it’s also about chronic non-infectious diseases, including cancer,” said Lopes. As a member of the WHO Steering Committee, Lopes helped to identify the scope of the problem in low- and middle-income countries and collaborated on effective solutions.
Lopes’ input aligns with his work at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We are one of the few centers that have a global oncology program to address disparities around the world,” he said. “We are working on a number of initiatives, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
The 262-page publication focuses on breast, cervical, colorectal, leukemia, lung and prostate cancers. It incorporates clinical interventions recommended in clinical guidelines on prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, palliative care, monitoring and end-of-life care. In addition, medical devices required to manage cancer are organized into seven areas: vaccination, clinical assessment and endoscopy; medical imaging and nuclear medicine; surgery; laboratory and pathology; radiotherapy; systemic therapy; and palliative and end-of-life care.