Call to the WHO to include environmental and occupation factors in disease prevention

Press Notice:

16/9/11

Alliance signs up to call on the WHO and the UN to include environmental and occupational factors in disease prevention.

A call to the UN and the WHO from over 100 scientists, health professionals, civil society representatives and other stakeholders, led by Dr Annie J Sasco and André Cicolella from France, to tackle the challenge of non-communicable diseases by global action, especially in low-and-medium income countries, including environmental health factors and occupational disease prevention.

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention (UK) participated in the WHO International Conference on Environmental and Occupational Determinants of Cancer: Interventions for Primary Prevention in Asturias earlier this year, where a call to action ( Asturias Declaration) acknowledged the substantial percentage of cancers caused by environmental and occupational exposures. The declaration calls for the primary prevention of environmental and occupational cancer in countries around the world.

The WHO and UN high-level meeting on noncommunicable disease prevention and control will take place in New York on the 19th and 20th Sept. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like heart attacks and strokes, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease account for over 63% of deaths in the world today.

We want to make sure that cancer is not classified as a ‘lifestyle’ disease, many cancer’s can be attributed to environmental and occupational exposures and, as such, are preventable. According to the May 2010 report to President Obama by the Presidents Cancer Panel, exposure to carcinogens at work and in the wider environment poses a serious threat , the full extent of the problem has been “grossly under-estimated” because of a lack of research.

We know from experience that the full answer does not lie only down the road of detection and pharmaceutical intervention, but also with primary prevention. We do not want our future to hold the inevitability of cancer.

One of the recommendations from the Asturias meeting was to shift the paradigm to primary prevention in cancer control as a fundamental principle at global, national and regional level.

The Alliance wants to see environmental and occupational risk factors included and addressed in all Cancer Plans in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Alliance is a UK based multi stakeholder group which includes representatives from NGOs, environmental and occupational health organisation’s, trade unions, public health advocates and civil society groups, to work together on cancer prevention. The Alliance aims to challenge the existing perception of control and treatment of cancer being the best way forward and get equal recognition for primary prevention and to ensure that the cancer establishment acknowledge the environmental and occupational risk factors for preventable cancers.