Dear ESMO Members, Colleagues and Friends,
As 2019 draws to a close, so too does my term as ESMO President. I have had the privilege to lead our Society for two years, and as I look back, I see an organisation that has been, and will always be at the forefront of oncology. ESMO has consistently delivered on its promise: to support its members and help them to become better doctors by providing a broad range of educational resources and opportunities. I am equally proud to say that we both are champions of optimal cancer patient care and empower our members to embrace this role for themselves.
This is why I feel that the end of my term is by no means the close of a chapter: we have together built on a strong legacy, and I believe the work we have done will continue to advance our Society for years to come. We have achieved a lot over the last two years – many actions and programmes that will ensure that we can continue to honour our mission in the future, including some important changes designed to strengthen the very foundations of ESMO. I take this opportunity to reflect on just a few of our most important achievements.
Our track record: Supporting good decisions with solid evidence
With the adoption of the new ESMO Bylaws and Organisational Regulations, we have paved the way to make the day-to-day of our Society more participative and inclusive. New elected roles at its helm will allow ESMO to better listen and respond to the needs of its members as we move forward.
Because our membership is growing worldwide, we have continued to bring educational opportunities to oncologists everywhere. These include a new Asian edition of our Leaders Generation Programme as well as increasingly popular annual appointments in our calendar: from the ESMO Asia Congress, where I was excited to see many studies focused on Asian patient populations presented this year, to the ESMO Preceptorships and ESMO Summits held across the globe.
I was particularly honoured to host two annual ESMO Congresses throughout my term that celebrated multiprofessional dialogue and a wealth of studies reporting some of the most important advancements and practice-changing data in oncology. In so doing we continue to help doctors across the globe to translate rigorous science into better patient care.
We also believe that robust science should more effectively inform and guide policymaking decisions. That is why we have continued to develop and update the ESMO-Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale. The ESMO-MCBS has increased awareness that not all drugs bring meaningful clinical benefit for patients and has rapidly gained recognition as an indispensable decision-making tool. As an example, it has been particularly rewarding to see it being used effectively as part of the analytic arsenal for Kazakhstan’s collaboration with the WHO and ESMO, in the country’s pressing need to provide and maintain improved cancer care for its citizens. Among other results, 19 new targeted medicines were added to Kazakhstan’s list of essential, reimbursed medicines.
Essential medicines are also at the heart of a critical international issue that had been largely ignored up until now: drug shortages. As a strong voice in public health policy, ESMO initiated high-level discussions on this topic and has succeeded in drawing public and political attention to the fact that some of the inexpensive drugs considered fundamental to cancer care are actually in chronically short supply.
At the EU level, our Society has long since been a natural partner for policymakers: we were among the most committed advocates for “one-time consent”, a concept which was ultimately approved and included in the General Data Protection Regulation and the Clinical Trials Regulation. Our efforts have contributed to preventing data privacy from having a detrimental impact on cancer research.
The importance of good research cannot be understated: it is the bedrock of evidence-based medicine and therapeutic progress. Today, immunotherapy represents a new frontier – a rapidly emerging field. One which oncologists need to advance through the dissemination and exchange of data. For this reason, I am delighted to have overseen the recent launch of ESMO’s new peer-reviewed open access journal, Immuno-Oncology Technology, allowing physicians to do just that.
Our Society offers support to all doctors, providing educational opportunities in the diverse field of medical oncology as part of an integrated approach to cancer care. Our aim is always to provide oncologists with the tools that will help them in their daily practice. I can confidently report that ESMO has developed into a comprehensive educational hub: a go-to platform where oncologists from all over the world can find practical resources to better serve their patients’ needs.
Stronger foundations for the future
As physicians, cancer care specialists, investigators and patients’ advocates, we sometimes need to look at the numbers to better grasp the bigger picture. So, to sum up how far we have come as an organisation this year, here is a numerical portrait of our Society in 2019.
We are a Society that makes things happen at the global level – one that cares for its members and for cancer patients.
With the New Year just around the corner, I am reflecting on ESMO’s Vision 2020 for Integrated Cancer Care, Specialised Education, Sustainable and Accessible Cancer Care. While there is much work still to be done, everything we have done has been done well.
It has not been my doing alone – far from it. ESMO’s Executive Board, Officers, staff and of course you, our ESMO members, have all been instrumental to each and every milestone we have marked together, and for this I wish to express my immense gratitude.
I rest easy in the knowledge that our Society is brimming with talented, passionate and dedicated individuals who will carry its important work forward, and I can think of no one more qualified to take over its stewardship than my esteemed colleague, friend and successor as ESMO President, Solange Peters.
It has been my honour to serve you throughout my two-year term, and I feel equally honoured to be leaving this role in the hands of someone so deeply committed to ESMO and its mission. I hope you will join me in wishing her all the best as she leads our Society into the future.