The WHO Regional Office for Europe contributes to cancer prevention and treatment in the following ways:

  • identifying the scale of the problem and the capacity of countries to respond, and assisting individual countries with their own situation analyses;
  • supporting countries in the development, implementation and evaluation of national cancer control programmes;
  • working on early detection through the development of early diagnosis and screening programmes for breast and cervical cancer;
  • strengthening health and social care systems for the management of chronic disease, for example through access to essential medicines, and reforms of primary care systems to become more responsive;
  • building capacity for palliative care through national palliative care programmes, strengthening of primary care and health service delivery, training of health workers on palliative care principles and pain management and increasing access to oral morphine;
  • assisting countries in surveillance of diseases and their risk factors including risk factor surveys, cancer registries and cancer screening registries;
  • facilitating the exchange of good practice between countries through international meetings, subregional workshops, producing and disseminating information; and
  • building alliances with other agencies and nongovernmental organizations and collaborating to raise awareness and the need for an adequate response.

Policy interventions

Part of this work involves supporting countries in the implementation of international commitments to take action. For example, as Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, many countries in the Region have introduced population-based interventions policies, including raising tobacco and alcohol taxes and prices, warning people about the dangers of tobacco and harmful use of alcohol, and enforcing bans on tobacco and alcohol advertising.

Country work

WHO/Europe conducts country visits to assess and make recommendations, notably regarding cancer registration, cancer screening and palliative care. The most recent visits include:

  • Montenegro (December 2015);
  • Belarus (with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in February 2016 and September 2016 and with the International Atomic Energy Agency/Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy in April 2016);
  • Kyrgyzstan (March 2016);
  • Azerbaijan (May 2016);
  • Tajikistan (July 2016); and
  • Kazakhstan (with the International Atomic Energy Agency/Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in November 2016).

The aim of the February 2016 visit to Belarus was to assess the current situation regarding cancer screening and to recommend improvements to the current pilot programmes. In the coming years, WHO and IARC will provide technical support to Belarus to implement its cancer screening programmes.

World Cancer Day

Each year on 4 February, activities are organized around the world to raise awareness and promote action to ease the burden of cancer. WHO supports the efforts of the International Union Against Cancer in organizing these activities and bringing prevention strategies to the attention of policy-makers throughout the world. World Cancer Day 2016 focused on the European code against cancer and the 12 ways people can reduce their cancer risk.