Press Release

Health Ministers Commit to advance the fight against Cancer

An agreement to support international collaboration in cancer control was renewed by Health Ministers today.

The agreement reaffirms the commitment of the governments of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States of America to support the work of the Cancer Consortium.

The Ireland-Northern Ireland-National Cancer Institute (USA) Cancer Consortium, which was established in 1999, is an international partnership which aims to enhance cancer research, care and treatment on the island of Ireland.

Today’s agreement was signed at the Cancer Consortium’s biannual conference which is being held in Belfast. The Consortium agreed to intensify its endeavours in a manner which encompasses all aspects of cancer control. The enhanced co-operation and partnership will enable improved scientific programmes in each jurisdiction, including in the areas of prevention and early detection, diagnosis and treatment, palliative care and survivorship, research and education.

Speaking at today’s signing ceremony, Health Minister Paul Goggins said, “The Cancer Consortium plays an important role in the development of research into the incidence and control of cancer in our society. Amongst the many successes of the Consortium’s work, I want to acknowledge the value of the scholar exchange programme which enables key personnel working in cancer care and cancer research here to benefit from short-term exchanges with the National Cancer Institute in Washington. The opportunities provided by the Consortium for such exchange clearly bring real benefits in the care and treatment of patients.

”Minister for Health & Children, Mary Harney, T.D. said, “The Consortium is a successful model of collaboration on cancer as it is based on the professional commitment of leading cancer control experts on the island and at the Institute. The Irish Government is fully committed to building on this model to further develop North/South co-operation. Together we have achieved real benefits for patients in developing a clinical trials network to facilitate early access to innovative new therapies, a telesynergy network of communication and a professional education and training programme to improve prevention, research and treatment of cancers. The Government will continue to invest significantly in this most productive partnership”

Dr. Niederhuber, Director of the National Cancer Institute stated, “The Memorandum of Understanding between the United States, Northern Ireland and Ireland, which we enthusiastically renew, has been a model for international collaboration among public health and scientific communities. Expansion of joint clinical research studies, improved access to cancer statistics, and enhanced cancer registries, along with prevention-related workshops, conferences, and training, are paying real dividends, especially in Ireland’s pace-setting workplace smoking ban and Northern Ireland’s plan to introduce a smoking ban in 2007”

Both Ministers acknowledged the significant support of the National Cancer Institute under the leadership of Dr. Neiderhuber, Director of the National Cancer Institute. Cancer control on the island is benefiting from the expertise of the Institute, a world leader in cancer control.

“We are fully committed to supporting and developing the Consortium in partnership with the NCI over the next five years to continue to prevent and cure cancer and to care for those with cancer.”