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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Plan to improve blood cancer survival rates in Australia

The Leukaemia Foundation has welcomed the Federal Government’s release of the National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer, a first of-its-kind report to unite Australia towards a goal of zero lives lost to these cancers by 2035. 

Released on Sunday by Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, the groundbreaking National Action Plan was developed by the Blood Cancer Taskforce together with the broader blood cancer community and provides an evidence-based blueprint setting the national agenda to cure and conquer blood cancers. 

It is the 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 National Action Plan during Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September comes one year since the Minister 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. 

The National Action Plan launch included Federal Government funding support 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. 

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Ms Struthers said the Leukaemia Foundation was proud to have played a key role in bringing the issue into the national spotlight by commissioning the State of the Nation report – a comprehensive, evidence-based report which identified that blood cancer is more significant and prevalent than ever before.

“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.”

Ms Struthers said while Australia had strong health systems across the country which were achieving remarkable results in improving survival rates and treatment, there was 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 patients and their families: 
•    Achieve best practice 
•    Empower patients and their families 
•    Accelerate research 
•    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,” Ms Struthers said.

“Equally important, it also shows us the potential to collectively reimagine how we are all walking alongside people living with blood cancer, empowering them throughout their journey and supporting them to live full lives after diagnosis.

“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.” 

View the full National Strategic Action Plan here.

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