Towards sustainable cancer care: the path forward for Georgia and beyond

City Views: Guest Essay

Today, in many countries, governments are navigating a complex, and rapidly evolving health landscape. Health systems are being stymied by multiple health crises, rising noncommunicable diseases and cancer cases, growing inequities in healthcare access and constrained resources.  

As the First Deputy Health Minister for Georgia, I am witnessing first-hand how countries are contending with these global health challenges. Cancer remains a big challenge for Georgia. 

To bridge these disparities and promote equitable health outcomes, we recognise the critical importance of strategic planning anchored by sustainability—a cornerstone of the C/Can model. We actively collaborate to improve cancer diagnostics and outcomes. 

As the first European city to join the global C/Can network in 2019, Tbilisi, Georgia has emerged as a powerful example of how sustainable cancer care can transform lives

Over the past four years, Tbilisi has mobilised over 170 healthcare professionals, alongside 100 patients from 27 public and private institutions to meet the city’s cancer care needs. This multisectoral approach has resulted in a robust needs assessment and an accompanying city roadmap—the first-of-its-kind strategic blueprint to address the city’s identified gaps in cancer care. With the support of C/Can, six prioritised city projects have been completed, each one strengthening various aspects of the cancer care infrastructure in Tbilisi—from education and professional training, cancer management guidelines to community access—with patient benefits always central to our efforts. 

The Ministry of Health has been an integral part of this journey since the beginning, championing these projects and setting the stage for national scale-up. As we enter the sustainability phase, with C/Can as a valuable partner, we are well-positioned to leverage the C/Can model as a framework to design and implement a sustainable model for action to extend the success of the C/Can initiative beyond Tbilisi.

Our commitment to lead the sustainability phase underscores the critical role that governments play in sustaining and scaling such transformations. However, lasting change does not hinge on government action alone; it demands sustained funding, capacity development, public policy changes, and collaboration among all stakeholders.

A new consortium of leaders, cancer experts and local stakeholders will also be established with the support of C/Can. The group will be instrumental in the implementation of the city projects, including resource mobilisation, and the monitoring and evaluation of results to assess progress towards sustainability. We will be investing in a dedicated team to manage, and enact sustainability activities, as well as hosting C/Can’s City Manager for a year, ensuring continuity, knowledge transfer, and synergy essential for the implementation of the sustainability plan.

We hope that Georgia’s efforts will serve as a model for other cities and countries seeking to embed sustainable cancer care within their own healthcare systems. This sustainable approach is rooted in embedding solutions within existing health systems and fostering cross-sector collaboration. By partnering with city stakeholders, private sector supporters, and local communities we have the best chance of achieving long term gains. Our focus remains centred on better outcomes and longer, healthier lives for our country’s cancer patients.

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