Internationally renowned Professor of Oncology, David Khayat, founder of the Paris Charter Against Cancer, arrived in Cyprus on 25 October 2016, where he gave a lecture with the subject: “National Strategy against cancer: The French experience.”

The lecture was made possible because of the initiative of the First Lady of the Republic of Cyprus, Andri Anastasiades, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Cyprus and the Medical School of the University of Cyprus.

Formal guests of Professor David Khayat’s speech were the President of the “ELPIDA” Association of Friends of Children with Cancer, Ms. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, who collaborates with him, as well as with Mrs. Anastasiades, and has had a long-lasting friendship with both.

The event began with a brief welcome on the part of Mrs. Anastasiades who, having presented Professor Khayat to those in attendance, emphasized: “Today’s event is not just proof that this strategy and social alliance is fruitful, but it also illustrates its expansion into all fields related to cancer. Professor Khayat’s presence, an Oncologist of international renown, with which he honours us today, is due to the effort and commitment of one of the greater philanthropists that our nation has ever had, and this is none other than Mrs. Marianna Vardinoyannis. France is the only country which in recent years has decided to devise a national strategic plan against cancer. The Ministry of Health of Cyprus is oriented towards a similar goal, also taking advantage of the outcomes of the lecture by the internationally renowned Oncologist, David Khayat. Besides, Mr. Khayat is the leading figure of the Paris Charter Against Cancer, has visited the Marianna Vardinoyannis – ELPIDA Children’s Oncology Unit, and is familiar with, and acts as a conduit for the work of the ELPIDA Foundation.

The welcome of the Minister of Health of Cyprus, Mr. George Pamporidis, then followed, as well as the welcome of the Dean of the University of Cyprus, Mr. Constantinos Christofides.

When Professor Khayat took the podium, he sincerely thanked Mrs. Anastasiades for the honor she bestowed upon him by inviting him to Cyprus and congratulated her on her initiative in taking action in order for Cyprus to devise its own national strategy against cancer. Furthermore, Mr. Khayat expressed his joy regarding Mrs. Vardinoyannis’ presence at his lecture, stating: “Marianna, I haven’t got words to express how important you are in the lives of the many children that you have saved. More lives than I have saved in my life as a doctor. You make such investments, such commitment with so much passion, fighting to protect the lives of those children, truly in the entire world.”

Subsequently, Professor Khayat detailed France’s National Strategy against cancer, stressing that any National Strategy against cancer must include a course of action based upon each country’s needs, capabilities, and shortcomings, which will serve as weapons in the “war with cancer,” whose ultimate goal will be a reduction in the number of this disease’s victims.

Referring to the way in which the creation of the national strategy against cancer began in France in 2002, Mr. Khayat said, among other things: It had the principles of the Paris Charter Against Cancer as its foundation, which was signed on 4 February 2000 by the President of the French Republic, Jacques Chirac, and by the Director General of UNESCO at that time, Koihiro Matsura. It contained 71 drastic measures, including the creation of the French National Cancer Institute. In order to finalize and institute the national strategy plan, nearly one year was required as well as an investment amounting to 1.7 billion euros for the following four years. Among the many measures which needed to be taken, the most important were those related to prevention, care, access to novel therapies, and research.

Drawing his speech to a close, Mr. Khayat stressed: The great lesson that we have learned all these years is the need for all of the factors of this problem to be coordinated, including the patient representative groups, the need to evaluate each plan regardless of its results, and finally the need for patient care to be concentrated in easily accessible centres.

Mrs. Vardinoyannis congratulated Mrs. Anastasiades on her initiative of such great importance, as well as Mr. Khayat for his informative and erudite speech, adding that in the battle against cancer, me must all join forces and work together closely in order to obtain as many tools as possible.

Following the speech, Mrs. Andri Anastasiades hosted a meal in honour of the speaker at the Presidential Residence.

Taking advantage of her visit to Cyprus, Mrs. Vardinoyannis attended a meeting with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Anastasiades, who thanked her for her visit to Cyprus as well as her contribution in the battle against cancer.