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The Mexican President, NCI’s Dr. Varmus, and Cancer Control in Mexico

, by Ted Trimble

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The Spanish word for “cancer” is “cáncer” – they are almost exactly the same, and so are the challenges that many countries like Mexico and the United States face when it comes to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment.

Visit the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Global Health web site and you will see that our mission is to support cancer research and cancer control planning through the creation of sustainable international partnerships across the globe.  Cancer does not recognize geographical boundaries, nor does our work.

Last week, our mission took us to Mexico.

I’m delighted to tell you about the visit that NCI’s Director, Dr. Harold Varmus, made to Mexico’s National Cancer Institute (Instituto Nacional de Cancerología, or INCan) on October 23, 2014.  Dr. Varmus joined the President of Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to celebrate the opening of INCan’s new wing, Torre de Hospitalizacion.  This event was made even more memorable as President Peña is the first Mexican president to visit the facility in more than 30 years.

Furthermore, I am pleased to share with you President Peña’s announcement on the launch of Mexico’s new National Cancer Control Plan.  The National Cancer Institute has been collaborating with the Mexican government and other leaders in cancer control throughout Mexico, to assist in the development of their National Cancer Control Plan for several years.  It is because of our strong partnership with Mexico, and much collaboration to strengthen cancer research and cancer control planning for all of Latin America, that I share their excitement in the unveiling of the National Cancer Control Plan.   

During his trip, and in keeping with NCI’s global mission, Dr. Varmus also participated in meetings with senior staff from INCan, the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (Mexican Institute of Social Security), as well as the Mexican Secretariat of Health to lay the groundwork for further, critically important collaborations between INCan and the NCI.  Finally, a strong believer in attracting the next generation of cancer researchers, Dr. Varmus met with a group of Mexican students and post-docs to discuss the importance of research in advancing Mexico’s cancer prevention, detection and treatment programs.

As I wrote about last month in my post, “Global Health Diplomacy on Display: Dr. Varmus and Indian Prime Minister Modi,” there is no substitute for the spark of creativity ignited from face-to-face interaction and collaboration between cancer experts from different countries, something that is part of our DNA at the Center for Global Health.  Sharing knowledge, resources, passion, and the desire to develop better outcomes for cancer patients knows no boundaries – nor does the work that we do.

So to Dr. Varmus, President Enrique Peña Nieto, and our partners at the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología in Mexico, I’d like to say “muchas gracias.”   I’m excited about the future.


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