Press release (10/04/2020)
A national health plan for cancer patients to avoid a wave of collateral victims!
Brussels, 10 April 2020 – The crisis linked to the Covid-19 virus is currently responsible for a slowdown across the range of care needed in the treatment of cancer. As cancer is a major cause of mortality in Belgium the consequences of this must not be under-estimated. The Jules Bordet Institute, the Belgian reference centre for comprehensive cancer treatment, would already like to draw your attention to the measures that will have to be rapidly implemented.
The pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus is at the origin of an exceptional health situation. Every effort is currently being mobilised, among the general population, in medical circles and at the political level. The Jules Bordet Institute fully supports and is fully engaged in this combat. Nevertheless, in the field of cancer many patients do not at present have access to the necessary care in terms of screening, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of their illness. This situation, imposed by the urgency and scale of the current problem, risks being the cause of a second wave of "collateral" victims of the COVID-19 virus.
"Contrary to the viral epidemic, this second crisis is totally predictable. It is our responsibility to anticipate it and to envisage the collective measures necessary to limit the consequences. As soon as the pressure of the viral epidemic eases we must be able to resume optimal care for these patients. This is why, following on from the management of the present crisis, the treatment of cancer patients will require exceptional means, coordination and support from society as a whole," explains Vincent Donckier, Head of the Department of Surgery at the Jules Bordet Institute.
A number of actions will have to be implemented rapidly
- Identification of those health sectors that must be the priority when care returns to normal. Cancerology is one of these priorities.
Drawing up of a national strategy to manage the priorities and ensure coordination between the various care sectors. In particular, facilitating the transfer of Covid-19+ patients requiring adapted care to specialised and equipped hospital services to enable services specialised in cancerology to intervene rapidly to provide accelerated and coordinated care for patients requiring the most urgent treatment.
To ensure a rapid and safe return to a normal care service, in addition to protective material, priority access to screening tests for the virus as well as to serological tests to detect antibodies as soon as these become available. The combination of these two types of test is a necessary precondition for progressively reintroducing patients and care staff to the active circuit by identifying non-contagious persons and also protected persons.
- The activation of exceptional resources, including financial, to support this relaunch. At every level, healthcare staff and hospitals will emerge exhausted from the present period.
"Without any doubt, the present priority remains to do everything possible to limit the effects of the epidemic linked to the COVID-19 virus. We nevertheless believe that we must already anticipate what is to come. The only way to confront what risks being a second crisis is by working together. This will require assistance from all actors in society. Compared with the sudden appearance of the viral epidemic, we have the decisive advantage of being able to anticipate this second wave. We cannot allow ourselves to ignore it and must do everything in our power to anticipate it."
- Press contact of the Institut Jules Bordet : Ariane van de Werve
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