Dear colleagues, partners, friends,
I am aware that we are all facing difficult challenges, both personal and professional, during the COVID-19 pandemic and I trust that that you and your families are keeping well through this unprecedented global health emergency.
In the wake of major disruptions that have been triggered by COVID-19, we are doing our very best to mitigate negative impacts on our SIOPE activities and stay connected with our community. Together with all our partners and community, we will continue striving for the best possible care for children and adolescents with cancer. This latest issue of the SIOPE Newsletter provides an update on our activities, events and projects.
SIOP Europe Annual Meeting
The SIOPE Board, alongside CCI Europe made the decision to postpone the 2020 Annual Meeting, which was originally scheduled to take place on 4-8 May 2020 (Valencia, Spain) due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The SIOP Europe Annual Meeting will now take place as originally planned in Valencia (Spain) but with the new dates of 26-30 April 2021.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Valencia, and together, we will make the SIOP Europe 2021 Annual Meeting a unique and memorable event.
For those of you who have already paid your registration for 2020, it will be automatically transferred to the 2021 Annual Meeting and no further action is required. You can find more information on the Annual Meeting website.
COVID-19 Resources and Guidance
There is still much to learn about COVID-19. The scientific literature continues to grow with the increasing experiences of the pandemic in different countries and a considerable pace of laboratory-based and clinical research to understand the pathophysiology of the disease and develop new treatments, including vaccines.
I am very pleased to inform you that our manuscript, in collaboration with SIOP, was published in Pediatric Blood and Cancer:
- The COVID-19 PANDEMIC: A Rapid Global response for Children with Cancer from SIOP, COG, SIOP Europe, SIOP-PODC, IPSO, PROS, CCI and St Jude Global
This Special Report gives a summary of the broad principles for continuing multidisciplinary care during SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and articulates the framework for healthcare teams caring for children with cancer during the pandemic with contributions from the leadership of the International Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP), Children’s Oncology Group (COG), St Jude Global programme and Childhood Cancer International.
This publication is also available on COVID-19 Resources and Guidance in addition to other reference points by IGHG, ITCC and SIOP – St Jude Global. This section on our website will be regularly updated with any new guidance as they emerge.
New: 1st SIOP Europe Course in Paediatric Oncology
I am delighted to announce the launch of the 1st SIOP Europe Course in Paediatric Oncology – a new education initiative designed to support young and promising paediatric oncologists in developing their careers in paediatric oncology.
This course will cover clinical aspects of childhood cancer, clinical research methods, research collaborations, statistical analysis, presentation skills and leadership. Real-life cases and situations will be discussed, as well as patient management and how to perform clinical studies. Attendees will obtain the skills and expertise to become leading physicians, performing high-quality patient management and research.
SIOPE Oncopolicy, Europe’s Cancer Plan, policy events
Our European Oncopolicy activity continues to flourish. This is critically important as it is fundamental to intensifying political awareness of the issues that face children and young people with cancer. I am very pleased that a plethora of events and meetings took place these last months, thereby further strengthening our policy pillar:
- A Special Lunch Meeting with the European childhood cancer community and newly elected Members of the European Parliament “Beating Childhood Cancer in Europe: the 2020-2024 agenda” was held on 28 January 2020 at the European Parliament in Brussels. This Special Policy Event aimed to gather perspectives from policy makers, paediatric cancer professionals, parents and patients, and foster exchange on the actions that the European Parliament can take to advance more and better cures for childhood cancer patients, survivors and their families across Europe.
- Europe’s Cancer Plan was launched by the European Commission on 4 February 2020. The event was widely attended by cancer stakeholders including a delegation from SIOP Europe and CCI Europe representing paediatric cancers. The occasion showed EU’s strong dedication to fighting cancer and use the collective power for positive change.
- A Special Policy Meeting also took place on 4 February between SIOPE Board Member Gilles Vassal and the Chairman of the European Parliament European People’s Party (EPP) Group Chairman Manfred Weber to send a message of urgency for beating childhood cancer. Following the meeting, a video was released on 15 February to mark International Childhood Cancer Day. The support of the EPP Chairman has been invaluable in raising further awareness amongst European policy makers of childhood cancer needs and priorities.
- International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day (ICCD 2020) was held on 18 February 2020 at the European Parliament in Brussels. Hosted by MEP Patrizia Toia (IT, S&D), the topic ‘Artificial Intelligence and Big Data: Towards the next frontier in paediatric cancer research and innovation in Europe’ offered an excellent opportunity to explore the urgent need for life-saving innovation across the paediatric cancer pathway by means of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. This event made a powerful point that Europe’s youngest citizens affected by cancer - our children, our future - are not left behind but should make their voices be heard, fully partake, and benefit from these technological and policy initiatives.
- Also on the 18th February 2020, the ENVI Committee (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) Health Working Group held a meeting in Brussels to discuss ‘Cancer prevention – modifiable risks.’ It was important that SIOPE spoke at this event to emphasise the unaddressed challenge of understanding the causes of childhood cancer and high quality research to identify modifiable risk factors in paediatric oncology and the potential role of EU initiatives to rise to these challenges.
During this period of COVID19 restricted activities, the SIOPE Team launched the Gold Ribbon Social Media Challenge to highlight the real heroes – the children and adolescents battling cancer with tremendous strength and courage. During the current #StayHome order in many countries, I invite you to use the hashtag #GoldRibbonHeroes to engage and bring further awareness and visibility to childhood cancer.
Speaking of heroes, we have all witnessed how healthcare professionals and frontline workers have selflessly and courageously looked after their patients during the COVID-19 health emergency and maintained essential services. We owe a profound debt of gratitude to all those who are working to save lives every day under such extreme circumstances. They continue putting themselves at risk doing their job every day. This is heroism with a capital H.
I hope you will enjoy reading this latest SIOP Europe Newsletter and stay updated. I look forward to working with you all and encourage you to continue supporting our patients and their families in these difficult times.
Keep safe and stay well.
SIOP Europe President