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World Cancer Day 2024: Reflection, Recalibration, and Tremendous Opportunities to Close the Care Gap

, by Satish Gopal, M.D., M.P.H.


Where you live shouldn't determine if you live. Close the Care Gap. World Cancer Day, 4 February.
Credit: World Cancer Day Campaign Material by Union for International Cancer Control

World Cancer Day is upon us again this year, and again it neatly coincides with my anniversary of starting at the NCI,  four years ago! There is still so much work to do to ‘close the care gap’ but I remain really excited about the progress we are making at the NCI Center for Global Health on programs that we are optimistic can meaningfully help address the escalating cancer burden worldwide. There continue to be tremendous opportunities ahead of us, and I am confident we can realize these with continued strong support from the White House reignited Cancer Moonshot, our clearly articulated commitment in the National Cancer Plan to ‘demonstrate international leadership in this truly global challenge’, and the strong support of Dr. Monica Bertagnolli now as the NIH Director and Dr. Kimryn Rathmell  as the NCI Director.

Even as we continue to map our opportunities and advance our work in 2024, World Cancer Day provides a chance to reflect on many important accomplishments in 2023. Just a few of these are highlighted below:

CGH Strategic Plan 2021-2025

In the year ahead, we hope to build on this progress by effectively expanding and coordinating support for many of the initiatives described above. We also expect to continue advancing priorities articulated in our 2021-2025 Center for Global Health Strategic Plan, and to connect with colleagues around the world virtually and in person, for example at the upcoming 2024 ASGCR and World Cancer Congress.

In an election year, like nearly all of us at NIH, I am thankful to be a public servant who’s not on the ballot, but I am also keenly aware that I have now completed the equivalent of one presidential term since coming to the NCI. The last four years for me at the NCI have flown by in an instant, seen my daughters become eye-rolling teenagers, and provided opportunities to work with and learn from truly amazing colleagues. As an organization, we have come through a pandemic, grown NCI investments in LMICs, and advanced programs to help reduce cancer suffering globally. We are also already looking ahead to the end of our current Center for Global Health Strategic Plan 2021-2025 period. As such, in addition to tremendous excitement about the continued progress I anticipate in 2024, we are beginning to plan a comprehensive Center evaluation in 2025 which we will use to inform an update of our Strategic Plan moving forward. This will ensure that we are appropriately evolving our strategy and organization to best address cancer as the critical public health and human development problem that it is worldwide. The world is changing rapidly, and cancer is a notoriously complex problem. We know that without such continuous reflection and recalibration, we cannot hope to be successful in meeting our shared goals and closing the care gap around the world.

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