Towards zero lives lost to blood cancer

Friday, 02 October, 2020

Towards zero lives lost to blood cancer

The Leukaemia Foundation has welcomed the Australian Government’s release of the National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer — a report aiming to unite Australia towards the goal of zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.

Developed by the Blood Cancer Taskforce in partnership with the broader blood cancer community, the plan provides an evidence-based blueprint that sets the national agenda to cure and conquer blood cancers.

The plan forms a roadmap to achieve the vision of zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035, underpinned by zero preventable deaths regardless of geography or background, through equitable access to best practice treatment and care for all Australians.

The release of the plan comes one year after Minister for Health Greg Hunt established the Blood Cancer Taskforce and charged the unique collaboration of 29 of the country’s top blood cancer experts, patients and leaders with developing the agenda for change. The move was prompted by the release of the Leukaemia Foundation’s State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report — a comprehensive, evidence-based report that identified that blood cancer is more significant and prevalent than ever before.

The launch of the National Action Plan includes federal government funding to continue the work of the taskforce into the future and kickstart implementation of actions within the plan.

Leukaemia Foundation Acting CEO Alex Struthers said the significance of the announcement for Australians living with blood cancer could not be overstated.

“Today, together, we turn the tables on blood cancer in this country,” she said.

“The release of the National Action Plan backed by the support of the federal government marks a paradigm shift to change the face of treatment and survival outcomes for all Australians facing blood cancer.

“We congratulate the federal government for elevating the growing issue of blood cancer to the national agenda. This is a vital moment in time which will lead to significant, positive change for people across our country living with this disease for generations to come.

“We are delighted to continue as the lead organisation to support the taskforce in its work to implement the recommendations of the National Action Plan.

“For the past 45 years, the Leukaemia Foundation has supported and advocated for people living with blood cancer, standing with every Australian affected by this disease to be their voice and their someone-to-turn-to and fighting to get them access to the best treatment, care and support,” she said.

“Through the release of the State of the Nation report last year, we began ushering in a new era of change for the national blood cancer community, and, united with that community, we have worked hard since to build momentum towards targeted national action to cure and conquer blood cancers, which is what we are seeing today.”

Struthers said that while Australia has strong health systems across the country, which are achieving remarkable results in improving blood cancer survival rates and treatment, there is more work to be done to improve access to treatment and supportive care.

“The Leukaemia Foundation wants to ensure all Australians living with blood cancer have the same access to the best treatments, services and care, at the right time, no matter where they live. Breaking down these barriers is our priority,” she said.

“It is our hope that implementation of the National Action Plan will unite Australia’s blood cancer community and governments to bridge gaps in treatment and care, and, ultimately, realise what is now a shared vision to see zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.”

The National Strategic Action Plan identifies four major priorities to improve outcomes for people living with blood cancer and their families:

  • achieve best practice;
  • empower patients and their families;
  • accelerate research; and
  • enable access to novel and specialised therapies.

“The National Action Plan shows us that, through coordinated and strategic collaboration between patients, patient organisations, clinicians, researchers, industry and government, we could see greater access to evidence-based treatments and care nationally, which will improve survival rates for Australians living with blood cancer,” Struthers said.

“The Leukaemia Foundation celebrates the National Action Plan as an exciting opportunity to transform blood cancer treatment and care. We look forward to joining with the broader blood cancer community to support its implementation and, ultimately, save and improve thousands of Australian lives today and into the future.”

Image caption: Leukaemia Foundation Acting CEO Alex Struthers.

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