There is an urgent need to increase the number of Eastern European ESMO members and to reach this goal it would be essential to enlight the benefits of being an ESMO member to the Eastern European oncologists.
In our opinion ESMO has not realized enough the differences between the needs of Western- and Eastern European countries and currently being an ESMO member primarily befenits the oncologists of more developed Western European countries.
This Western European dominance is clearly reflected in the nationality of the members of ESMO Board and its different Comittees.
Certainly it is quite challenging to identify the Eastern European needs from Western Europe therefore opinion leaders from Eastern Europe should play a more significant role in ESMO governing bodies.
Below we list a few hints, which in our opinion could increase the number of Eastern European ESMO members:
1, To bridge the economic gap
For an Eastern European oncologist paying the ESMO Membership fee is a serious burden especially if the membership does not provide them with proportional benefits.
Our recommendation is, that similarly to other European scientific associations, ESMO should offer a so called “national block-membership” for Eastern European oncologists. This would mean that the national oncological associations purchase a group-membership for their members for a reasonable price (depending on the number of the association’s members). Obviously in case of a block-membership the rights and benefits for this kind of members could be limited compared to the full membership.
2, To increase interest
a, To overcome language barriers
Language barrier is still an issue in Eastern Europe especially for oncologist over 40 years. To overcome this hurdle we suggest to :
– allow the national associations to translate ESMO web-page, e-learning modules and publications (educational books, recommendations etc) to their local languages.
– national associations should get the right to quaterly publish selected articles of Annals of Oncology in local language.
– basic ESMO educational courses should be organized in Eastern European countries in their local language to prepare oncologists in these countries for ESMO examination. The ESMO examination itself could be also available in their home countries if possible even on their own native language.
b, To increase knowledge sharing
The personal relationship between Western and Eastern European oncologists should be enforced and the annual congress is not appropriate for this purpose. We recommend the following actions for increased knowledge sharing:
– ESMO could organize yearly an Eastern European cancer research course rotating in the Eastern European countries like e.g. Flimms conference considering the Eastern European realities.
– a “center of excellence” program could be launched between Western and Eastern European oncology centers. It would mean that these centers collaborate in pairs under the umbrella of ESMO. These working pairs and by visiting each other they could share their clinical practices and experiences and learn each other’s daily practices and could initiate common clinical trials.
– a “train the trainer” program could also enhance knowledge sharing when Eastern European oncologists with a good command of English could attend ESMO organized training courses covered by ESMO and who in exchange for this opportunity should cascade the learned by returning to their home country.
Should any of these ideas raise your interest HSCO is happy to work it out in more details and cooperate in the implementation. Hungarian Society of Clinical Oncology is also at ESMO’s disposal for any other iniative to enhance collaboration between ESMO and Eastern European associations and oncologists.