Reflections on 2023 and the year ahead from our Chair

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As organisations and individuals we’ve faced considerable challenges over the past few years. Yet, as we approach the final days of 2023, I find myself deeply thankful for the resilience and commitment shown by my colleagues worldwide. Despite ongoing difficulties such as the escalating cost of living, global conflicts, and the impacts of climate change, our ovarian cancer community remains resolute in ensuring that everyone at risk of, or diagnosed with, ovarian cancer has the best chance of survival and best quality of life possible, no matter where they live.

Following two years of hard work, reflection, and consultation, we unveiled our new 5-year Coalition Strategy: “From Evidence to Action” in November. This Strategy revolves around four objectives that we believe hold the key to achieving our mission to drive profound and equitable change for all those impacted by this disease through partnerships, evidence, advocacy, and awareness. The objectives centre on prevention, awareness and health literacy, access to swift diagnosis and optimal treatments, and data and evidence.

Successful implementation of this Strategy will call for strong partnerships and collaborations. Our aim is to bolster grassroots movements, raise awareness, and advocate on local, national, and international platforms, with a laser-focus on ovarian cancer finally being acknowledged as a global health priority. For more details on this Strategy you can find it [here].

For me, our strategic partnership with the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) and our joint work on the Every Woman Study™: Low- and Middle-Income Edition is a powerful case study on the value of bringing patient and clinician voices together. It was a privilege to be part of a session on the Study at the IGCS Annual Global Meeting in Seoul last month. Engaging with IGCS, and clinical leads involved in the Study from 11 of the 24 countries involved, was invigorating and exciting. It emphasised that while we’re still awaiting the final data, we are already glimpsing substantial potential for change through collaboration and partnerships.

I am also excited by the progress we have made this year on our Ovarian Cancer Cost-of-Illness Study. When the data is complete, for the first time we will be able to quantify the impact of this disease not only on healthcare systems but also on the broader economy, when women leave the workplace or reduce work commitments while navigating their diagnosis. Our two Studies together will provide robust qualitative and quantitative evidence to guide our actions in the coming years.

I cannot forget this year’s World Ovarian Cancer Day results which were breathtaking. Your enthusiasm and hard work for this campaign helped us reach over 200 million people with awareness messaging around the world – certainly a mention by Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie also gave the campaign a boost! More countries are getting increasingly involved and for 2024 we will continue to add to our database of translations so we can reach even more people – not just on May 8, but year-round.

As always, all of our work over the last year has been informed by our partner advocacy organisations around the world and our wider network of stakeholders, including clinicians and patient advocates. I am excited that we will be able to provide all our stakeholders with concrete evidence that will help them advocate for actions at country level.

Realising our objectives hinges on strengthening existing partnerships and fostering new ones. In times of uncertainty, the value of collaboration and partnerships cannot be overstated. From working with partner organisations like STAAR Ovarian Cancer Foundation and Cure Our Ovarian Cancer, to building on our Ambassador Programme that already has a bestselling author and two African First-Ladies, we know that we can be more impactful by working together towards our common goals. I so look forward to what 2024 will bring.

As I close, my thoughts turn to the members of our World Ovarian Cancer Coalition Board of Directors. Their commitment to the Coalition and achieving our vision has never wavered. I wish to extend my deepest gratitude to Robin Cohen, Jane Hill, Tammy Brown, Elisabeth Baugh, Eva Schumacher-Wulf, Runcie CW Chidebe, and Rafe Sadnan Adel. It is my great privilege to be a part of this Board. I look forward to the coming year as we continue our work to achieve profound and equitable change for everyone impacted by this disease.

The Coalition’s dedication to our partners is stronger than ever. Together, we are confident in our ability to make strides towards ensuring No Woman is Left Behind. Wishing you all the very best for the holiday season and a peaceful New Year.

Annwen Jones OBE, Chair of the Board of Directors.