Arequipa joins the C/Can network in driving change in cancer care

  • Some 35,000 people will die from cancer in Peru this year.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Peru.
  • Focused on innovation and sustainability, City Cancer Challenge supports cities as they address the growing burden of cancer and improve equitable access to quality care.
  • C/Can will be announcing its next call for applications in 2023.

Arequipa, in Peru, is the tenth city to join the C/Can global network of cities working together to improve access to quality cancer care. The announcement coincides with C/Can’s third anniversary as a standalone foundation.

With the announcement, Arequipa becomes the fifth C/Can city in Latin America, alongside Asuncion, in Paraguay, Cali, in Colombia, Leon, in Mexico, and Porto Alegre, in Brazil. Some 24% of cities that answered C/Can’s call for applications, issued in October 2020, came from Latin America, the region where C/Can has its strongest presence.

“Cancer is a growing public health problem in Peru.  The C/Can process presents an important opportunity to continue building on the momentum and commitment of the recently adopted cancer law. Arequipa will generate learnings and best practices of implementation of the law that can be replicated and scaled in other cities.” said Dr Víctor Palacios, Director of the Health Ministry’s National Cancer Prevention and Control Directorate.

Located in the south of the country, Arequipa is Peru’s second city and has a population of around one million. According to the Ministry of Health of Peru (MINSA) cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the country, with approximately 35,000 cancer deaths every year. According to Globocan estimates Peru will close this year with more than 70,000 new cases in total, up 6% from 2018.  By 2040, the figure is expected to reach 125,000.

“I would like to welcome Arequipa to C/Can and applaud the political commitment made by the city authorities and the Ministry of Health of Peru in partnership with the Peruvian Oncology Medicine Society, and Regional Institute for Neo-plastic Diseases, South (IREN-SUR), to work towards strengthening the health system for improved access to quality cancer care in Arequipa,” said C/Can CEO Dr Susan Henshall.

Over the next three months, Arequipa will work closely with C/Can regional and global teams, recruiting a locally based city manager to coordinate activity, while developing a memorandum of understanding to outline the roles and responsibilities of all key stakeholders, establishing a timeline of activities and milestones.

This will then be followed by the launch of the  City Engagement Process, whereby over the course of two-to-three years, local stakeholders will identify,  plan and execute priority cancer care solutions adapted to the city’s resources.

Almost 50 civil society organisations supported Arequipa’s bid to join the City Cancer initiative following C/Can’s call for applications in October 2020.  The application process was led by the Peruvian Oncology Medicine Society (SPOM), a nation-wide not-for-profit organisation focused on sharing research into cancer and its treatment.

“Peru, like several other South American countries, is experiencing remarkable population growth, ageing, and urbanisation, which has given rise to profound changes in its epidemiological profile. Being part of C/Can will help Arequipa, and Peru, as we scale up our efforts and work across a range of sectors to improve access to cancer treatment,” said Dr Jesús Alberto Rivera, Director of IREN Sur.

Among the organizations that supported the SPOM-led application process were the Ministry of Health of Peru, the Arequipa Population-based cancer registry, the Arequipa Chamber of Commerce, the Archbishopric of Arequipa, the Latin American Paediatric Oncology Society, the Peruvian Businesswomen’s,  Association, the Regional Institute for Neo-plastic Diseases, South (IREN-SUR), the hospitals of the regional government of Arequipa, ESSALUD Social Security, private clinics, the National Association of Pharmaceutical Laboratories, and Roche Laboratories, among others.

A robust, transparent due diligence process

Building on C/Can’s experience from previous applicant cities, Arequipa has undergone a robust, transparent due diligence process over the course of 2021, allowing C/Can to better understand the local cancer care landscape, engage with key stakeholders, and assess to what extent the C/Can model could add value to ongoing cancer care efforts in the city.

Other applicant cities from around the world continue to undergo due diligence including on-site visits, that have in some cases been delayed by the pandemic.   These cities will continue the process, with other successful cities to be announced throughout 2022.  C/Can will be announcing its next call for applications in 2023.


About City Cancer Challenge 

C/Can supports cities around the world as they work to improve access to equitable, quality cancer care. Since its launch in 2017 by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), C/Can has developed a new model of addressing access to cancer care that, for the first time, leverages the city as a key enabler in a health systems response to cancer.

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