We Have an IDEA: United in the Fight Against Cancer

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On behalf of 2024 International Development and Education Award (IDEA) awardees, we received the decision of our acceptance in this outstanding training program offering mentorship and educational opportunities for early-career oncologists and cancer researchers with great interest. This will profoundly impact the enhancement of skills and knowledge within the oncology workforce, thereby advancing cancer care and research in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Success stories in research, advocacy, and education from LMICs deserve international recognition to motivate and inspire the next generation of researchers and practitioners and empower global oncology initiatives. Highlighting career advancements and achievements underscores the impact and importance of our work to further contribute both to local health-care improvements and global medical education. Recognizing these achievements not only celebrates individual success but also inspires a broader engagement with oncology challenges worldwide.

Cancer researchers and oncologists in LMICs face abundant deficiencies within the research landscape. This includes, but is not limited to, the lack of reliable patient data, shortage of skilled research workforce and time dedicated to research activities and mentorship, fragile research infrastructures, as well as few funding opportunities.1,2 Additionally, those in regions such as Africa experience a significantly higher hospital workload and more academic responsibilities, yet they report lower job satisfaction compared with their counterparts in high-income countries (HICs).3-5 Oncology training and education programs are also scarce in LMICs.6 Thus, regional and global initiatives can play a significant role in reducing disparities and creating optimal environments for the career development of young leaders, which may help curb the brain drain in oncology.

Cancer research that impacts patient care is predominantly focused on HICs, with minimal research tailored to the specific challenges faced by LMICs. There is a critical need to recalibrate this imbalance in cancer research and application to better address the unique issues of LMICs.

Bridging Disparities and Fostering Research Initiatives

In the fight against cancer as a global challenge, where resources are unequally distributed, international cancer organizations play a crucial role in bridging disparities. Historically, ASCO was at the forefront of global efforts, offering support to researchers and oncologists in LMICs to elevate their practice and research capabilities.7 One major area of support is through training and education. By providing access to cutting-edge clinical information, educational materials, and training programs, ASCO ensures that oncologists in LMICs stay updated with the latest advancements in cancer care.

In addition, ASCO also provides mentorship and funding for oncologists and researchers globally, through various awards of Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation.8 The IDEA is an illustrative example of these opportunities that support early-career oncologists and researchers in LMICs by pairing them with leading oncology mentors, allowing them to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting, visit their mentors’ institutions, and fostering long-term relationships to enhance cancer care in their countries. The IDEA in Palliative Care variant of the program focuses on medical education in palliative care, offering career development and the chance to build connections with palliative care experts.

There is an unmet need to build similar programs for early-career leaders in LMICs to tackle significant research questions that could influence global cancer control strategies. Achieving this will require intensive efforts from cancer societies, governments, policymakers, funding bodies, leaders, researchers, and the public.

In this direction, our IDEA 2024 awardees working group is currently building recommendations to foster these initiatives. In fact, our IDEA award comes with an idea to develop a roadmap for international organizations to build specific programs that address local and regional challenges in both research and practice within LMICs, thus further empowering current funding and training plans. This will align with the specific contexts of these settings, which are typically resource-limited.

To be truly effective, these programs must be wisely adapted to meet the unique challenges and needs of LMIC environments. This adaptation process would ensure that the training is not only relevant but also practical, enabling oncologists to apply their learning directly to improve patient care and outcomes in their local contexts. Such tailored training programs may significantly enhance the capacity building of LMICs’ health-care systems to manage and treat cancer and implement research programs more effectively. This document will serve as a resource to support the development of training programs and fellowships tailored to the context of resource-limited countries for enhanced cancer control plans. It is expected to be released early in 2025, and it will illustrate the specific needs of these settings.

We hope that professional cancer societies, such as ASCO, will build supportive programs aligned with these directions aimed at shaping cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable action plans. Together, let’s innovate, discover, educate, and aspire for a better world free of disparities.

—Khalid El Bairi, MD,
Faculty of Medical Sciences,
University of Mohammed VI Polytechnic Benguerir, Morocco

Abeid Omar, MD,
Kenyatta University Teaching Referral
and Research Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya

Myriam Saadi, MD,
Medical Oncology,
Abderrahmen Mami Hospital of Ariana,
Tunis, Tunisia

Amalya Sargsyan, MD,
Adult Solid Tumor and Chemotherapy Clinic,
Yeolyan Hematology and Oncology Center, Yerevan, Armenia

Lily Gloria Tagoe, MD,
Department of Child Health,
Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana

Kinjal Shankar, MD,
Department of Surgical Oncology,
Kasturba Medical College,
Manipal Academy of Higher Education,
Manipal, India

Matheus Andrade, MD,
Instituto do Câncer do Estado de São Paulo–ICESP-FMUSP,
Sao Paulo, Brazil

David Lee, MD,
Department of Clinical Oncology,
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Mariam Abuladze, MD,
Todua Clinic, Tbilisi Medical Academy,
Tbilisi, Georgia

Aparna Sharma, MD,
Department of Medical Oncology,
All India Institute of Medical Sciences,
New Delhi, India

Tawasapon Thambamroong, MD,
Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine,
Phramongkutklao Hospital and College of Medicine,
Bangkok, Thailand

Shama Pandey, MD,
Medical Oncology, National Academy of Medical Sciences,
Kathmandu, Nepal

Karishma Sharma, MD,
Department of Hematology and Oncology,
Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya

Pankaj Singhai, MD,
Department of Palliative and Supportive Medicine,
Sri Aurobindo University, Indore, India

Emmanuella Amoako, MD,
Clinical Affairs, Yemaachi Biotech, Accra, Ghana

Adekunle E. Sajo, MD,
Obstetrics and Gynaecology,
University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Marina Čalamać, MD,
Daily Chemotherapy Hospital,
Institute for Oncology and Radiology of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia

Girum Tessema Zingeta, MD,
Intermediate Hospital Oshakati,
Ministry of Health and Social Services,
Oshakati, Oshana, Namibia

Long Nguyen, MD,
Vietnam National Cancer Hospital, Hanoi, Vietnam

Haimanot K. Alemu, MD,
Oncology Unit, St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Sofia Vidaurre Mendes, MD,
Institute D’or of Research and Education (IDOR),
Oncology D’or, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

HebatAllah Mahmoud, MD,
Clinical Oncology Department,
Asyut University Hospital, Asyut, Egypt

Christina Malichewe, MD,
Department of Clinical Oncology,
Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences,
Dar Es Salam, Tanzania

Ramesh Shrestha, MD,
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology,
B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal

Aigul Semetei Kyzy, MD,
International Higher School of Medicine,
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Ghazal Tansir, MD,
Medical Oncology,
All India Institute of Medical Sciences,
New Delhi, India

Vivek Ghosh, MD,
Department of Clinical Oncology,
Birat Medical College Teaching Hospital,
Biratnagar, Nepal


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2. El Bairi K, Al Jarroudi O, Afqir S: Practical tools and guidelines for young oncologists from resource-limited settings to publish excellence and advance their career. JCO Glob Oncol 7:1668-1681, 2021.

3. Vanderpuye V, Hammad N, Martei Y, et al: Cancer care workforce in Africa: Perspectives from a global survey. Infect Agent Cancer 14:11, 2019.

4. Fundytus A, Sullivan R, Vanderpuye V, et al: Delivery of global cancer care: An international study of medical oncology workload. J Glob Oncol 4:1-11, 2018.

5. Seruga B, Sadikov A, Cazap EL, et al: Barriers and challenges to global clinical cancer research. Oncologist 19:61-67, 2014.

6. Karim S, Sunderji Z, Jalink M, et al: Oncology training and education initiatives in low and middle income countries: A scoping review. Ecancermedicalscience 15:1296, 2021.

7. Patel JD, Galsky MD, Chagpar AB, et al: Role of American Society of Clinical Oncology in low- and middle-income countries. J Clin Oncol 29:3097-3102, 2011.

8. ASCO: International Development & Education Award. Available at Accessed May 3, 2024.