After 25 years with the UICC, including nine years as Executive Director, Isabel Mortara has announced that she will step down from her position in September 2009 to pursue other endeavours.
On behalf of the Board, UICC president, Dr David Hill, expressed his deep appreciation for Isabel’s dedicated service and wide-reaching contributions to global cancer control. “She has been a driving force behind the organization and its flagship projects over a decisive period in UICC’s history. Under her leadership, UICC has grown to be a leading international NGO with a sphere of influence that includes all aspects of cancer prevention and control, and patient support. We regret losing Isabel’s expertise, energy and diplomatic skills, but we do understand her decision to move on.”
In close collaboration with the Board, UICC’s members, partners and staff, Isabel has initiated a range of activities that position cancer on the international health agenda, including:
- World Cancer Declaration
- World Cancer Day (February 4 each year)
- World Cancer Campaign – Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s World.
In particular, Isabel approached cancer control as an equity issue. She called on global policy-makers to ensure that people in low and middle-income countries have the same access to cancer prevention, screening and treatment facilities as those in developed countries. She also directed energy where it was most needed. The gap in survival from childhood cancers between developed and developing countries prompted the creation of “My Child Matters”. The fact that over 40% of cancers are preventable led to the establishment of the World Cancer Campaign, a five-year initiative to address risk factors such as tobacco use, nutrition and physical activity, infections and sun exposure.
Isabel nurtured relations and strategic partnerships with all sectors, including the World Health Organisation and other leading non-government bodies. She developed strategic alliances with the private sector, always with the goal of improving health and access to care.
Over recent years, the UICC’s governance has been strengthened. Strategic plans and well-defined mission statements have been developed and implemented. The World Cancer Congress was brought in-house in 2008, generating significant revenue for the organisation and its work. These efforts have ensured a strong foundation and the UICC is well placed to continue its work.
Isabel has expressed her ongoing support for UICC. “It has been a great privilege and an honour for me to serve the UICC. I have met many wonderful and committed people, and I fully intend to maintain these friendships and professional collaborations. I wish the UICC every success in achieving its mission.”
The UICC Board of Directors has appointed an Executive Committee to undertake an international search to hire a new Executive Director. If this process is still underway in September, Mr Juerg Boller, UICC Head of Finance and Administration, will act as interim Executive Director.