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NGO puts cancer reduction issues into top agendas

By Liu Zhihua | | Updated: 2013-04-01 21:10

When George H. W. Bush, the former United States president, challenged a group of corporate executives to do "something bold and venturesome about cancer within your own corporate family", the CEO Roundtable on Cancer was created in 2001 in response.

The non-profit organization aims to turn corporations, no matter how large or small, into healthy workplaces that help reduce cancer risks and other diseases.

Since then, the organization has involved hundreds of corporations and non-profit institutes into its CEO Cancer Gold Standard.

On April 1, the organization came to China and invited leading corporations to learn about its voluntary initiatives and to embrace the culture of workplace wellness, as the CEO Roundtable Friend-Raiser was hosted in Beijing.

"Companies doing well like doing good," said Marty J. Murphy, chief executive officer of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer.

"The organization works well in one country (the US), and we want it to work in another," Murphy added.

The organization gives a CEO Cancer Gold Standard award to encourage companies to make workplaces healthier, which focuses in five critical areas: tobacco use, nutrition, physical activity, prevention, screening and early detection, and access to quality treatment and clinical trial.

The standard is aligned with the three major goals: risk reduction, early detection and quality care.

"About 60 percent of cancer can be prevented," said Chris Viehbacher, chairman of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer, adding that more than 140 companies in the US were awarded the CEO Cancer Gold Standard turning their companies into healthy workplaces.

According to the Chinese Ministry of Health, cancer is now the leading cause of death in the country, and many cancer patients in China have a mid to late stage cancer when diagnosed.

Tobacco is the top risk factor linked with cancer worldwide, and tobacco cessation policies take effort and time, but will eventually succeed, as they have in more developed countries, Viehbacher said.

Also, obesity harms people's immune systems, and contributes a lot to the prevalence of cancer. China has a large number of obese people, largely due to the changed diet influenced by globalization, and requires a response, Viehbacher added.

About 20 executives with leading international companies in China attended the meeting and discussed practical approaches to enhance workplace wellness in China, and ultimately reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases.

The organization also plans to reach out to the Chinese government and State-owned companies in near future.

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