European Cancer Organisation

NEWS: Message from the ECCO President

Dear Members of the cancer care community,

I am writing, at the end of this busy 2018, to thank all of you who have provided your support to the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) in a major year of both policy action and ongoing transition.

As I look back on the year that has been, I take some quiet satisfaction in enhanced productivity in ECCO’s policy output, including:  

For 2019 I am already looking forward to further Essential Requirements publications, the publication of a new paper on the application of value based healthcare in the cancer sector, a second Quality Cancer Care Week that will begin to expand into national capitals, and a 2019 European Cancer Summit focusing on cancer care across borders.

All of this speaks to the ongoing realisation of a strategy for transforming ECCO from a mostly Congress, science and education based organisation, to one squarely focused on delivering its mission of improving outcomes for cancer patients via unrelenting policy focus. 

Changes, hellos and goodbyes, new surrounds

Of course this process of organisational change has required a subsequent reprofiling of office support needs. That has sadly, yet inevitably, involved saying fond farewells to many hard working and loyal staff members as we restructure to a smaller core delivery team. I think, just as one example, of the service of events staff such as Riitta Kettunen and Pat Vanhove, who between them can represent nearly half a century of dedication to multidisciplinary congresses and conferences for oncology healthcare professionals. We salute and thank all those staff moving to new ventures in 2019.

We say goodbye too, at this closing of the year, to Birgit Beger who assisted in the last 3 years of change in the position of CEO. We will be advertising soon for a new lead for the staff team in new offices in the heart of the EU quarter, where we move to as of January. In the meantime, during the brief transition period, Richard Price will function as interim manager of our secretariat.

At the same time, I am delighted that the resonance of our work on topics such as quality cancer care, access to innovation, integrated cancer care and the needs of the oncology workforce continues to attract new members into the ECCO platform. This has included the European Association for Palliative Care, the European Hereditary Tumour Group, the European Respiratory Society, the European Society for Hybrid, Molecular and Translational Imaging, and the European Society of Oncologic Imaging. I personally can’t wait to be working with these new societies and their representatives in 2019 as we collaborate and seek consensus on fresh and pressing cancer policy matters.

It has been a cheery hello too on to the Board of Directors’ Executive Committee to our new President Elect Dr Matti Aapro. We are already communicating daily together in preparation for his steering of ECCO as President as of January 2020.

Hello or goodbye to EU health cooperation?

2019 will also mean saying hello to a newly assembled European Commission following the European Parliament elections in May. This brings me to a closing appeal to all our members, stakeholders and supporters. We urge you to join ECCO in calling publicly for an #EU4Health

We need an EU that responds to the demonstrable public desire for coordinated European action on one of the issues that matters most to voters’ daily lives: the health of themselves and those they love. So ask candidates seeking your support if they will take a stand to protect and enhance the EU’s health role. Share ECCO’s 2018 Summit resolutions for their attention and awareness. Most of all, please consider using your vote to support a Europe that: 

  • works together for health and improved outcomes for cancer patients in ALL countries;
  • helps countries to overcome the complex barriers to conducting cancer research and providing treatment across borders;
  • promotes the mobility of skilled oncology healthcare professionals across borders to allow enhanced knowledge sharing, professional development and delivery of specialist attention to patients most in need;
  • unifies coordinating missions for improvement in cancer care care for Europe; and,
  • helps legislate across Europe against known risk factors for cancer such as tobacco and other carcinogens. 

We cannot lose this value. Instead, we must encourage European countries to cooperate and work even harder on cancer. Patients and society deserve nothing less. 

Join us in Brussels 12-14 September 2019 for discussion and resolutions on these matters and much else.

Wishing you all the most pleasant of holiday seasons and I wish for you a feeling of rejuvenation come January as we all return to playing our part in continuously improving cancer care and patients outcomes.

It is a pleasure working for you. It is an even greater pleasure working with you.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Poortmans 

The European CanCer Organisation (ECCO)  

Page last modified: