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Crisis to Catalyst. COVID19 as a blueprint for healthcare transformation.

Applying Lessons from COVID-19 to Prioritize Cancer Care in Canada.

The COVID19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the world and has brought about unprecedented challenges for healthcare systems worldwide. Governments, health authorities, politicians and decision makers mobilized in an unprecedented fashion, to prevent further spread and deaths from the SARS-COV-2 virus. Is it possible to transform cancer care with the same urgency as seen during COVID19, by learning from the challenges and successes of the pandemic response.

The COVID-19 crisis acted as a catalyst, pushing us to rethink and reshape our healthcare priorities and strategies. This collective response showcased the power of collaboration, innovation, and adaptability — lessons that now beckon us to apply the same vigour against cancer. Despite being one of the leading causes of death worldwide, cancer has been neglected, the time has come to prioritize cancer on the national agenda.

Cancer, the silent pandemic, can no longer be ignored.

The COVID-19 crisis forced us to confront uncomfortable truths about our healthcare infrastructure, revealing gaps and vulnerabilities that demand immediate attention. Cancer, with its enduring impact, cannot be relegated to the background any longer. It requires a collective commitment from governments, regulators, payors, healthcare providers, patients and patient groups, communities, and stakeholders within the healthcare sector (pharmaceutical, biotech, tech, etc.) to allocate resources, foster innovation, and reevaluate our healthcare priorities together.

Seven lessons learned from the pandemic

  1. COLAB(ORATION): The pandemic emphasized the impact of cross-sector collaborations in addressing public health challenges.

  2. (RE)IMAGINING PATIENT PARTNERSHIPS: Health disparities underscore the need to enhance patient partnership models and emphasize the role of primary care physicians.

  3. RESILIENT & SUSTAINABLE HEALTH SYSTEMS: Lack of health investment highlighted the need for a robust and sustainable health system, including workforce preparedness.

  4. DATA as the Foundation for Evidence-Based Action: Real-time data collection and analysis played a vital role in shaping policy decisions during the pandemic, setting a precedent for effective cancer control.

  5. (DISRUPTIVE) INNOVATION for Transforming Cancer Care: The pandemic revealed the urgency for modernizing cancer care processes and embracing disruptive innovation.

  6. ADDRESSING INEQUITIES (Social Determinants of Health): Tackling inequities is crucial for alleviating the disproportionate burden of cancer on marginalized communities.

  7. PREVENTION (the Best Defence): The importance of prevention was underscored during the pandemic, emphasizing its role in improving health outcomes and reducing costs.

The pandemic also underscored the significance of attending to the well-being of our elderly, recognizing the role of mental health, and highlighting the disproportionate impact and underrepresentation of women in healthcare. 

Political Will. The driving force for change

The resounding success in managing the pandemic came from unwavering political will. Similarly, prioritizing cancer care demands a commitment from our leaders. As we navigate the aftermath of the COVID-19 storm, it is imperative to channel the same sense of urgency, collaboration, and innovation into the fight against cancer. Governments must allocate resources, work with other stakeholders to develop comprehensive policies, and champion initiatives that put cancer at the forefront of the national agenda.

Cancer care is not a tomorrow problem.

It requires immediate attention and decisive action today. By making cancer care a political priority, we signal our dedication to the well-being of Canadians and the sustainability of our healthcare system.

A Call to Transform Cancer Care

As we emerge from the shadows of the pandemic, let us carry the lessons learned as guiding beacons for the future of cancer care in Canada. By applying the lessons from COVID-19, we can create a healthcare system that is not just responsive but truly equitable, patient-centered, and prepared to face the challenges of the future. The collaboration and innovation that defined our response to COVID-19 can be the driving force that reflects our commitment to health and a reinvigorated effort to prioritize and transform cancer care.

Cancer demands our attention, and the time to act is now.

Learn more about how the lessons learned from COVID19 can be applied to prioritize cancer care in canada here


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