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McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer designated as World Health Organization Collaborating Centre

Tuesday 4 September, 2018

The McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer is now a designated World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Law and Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), focusing on the effective use of law to prevent and control NCDs.

The only centre of its kind in the world, the McCabe Centre is a joint initiative of Cancer Council Victoria, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), and Cancer Council Australia, established to make an impact on cancer globally by using the law.

Globally, NCDs – mainly cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes – are the leading cause of death, driven largely by four main modifiable risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol.

NCDs are a major cause of poverty and a barrier to economic and social development. With four out of five people with a NCD living in low- and middle-income countries, the prevention and control of NCDs is a critical development issue.

McCabe Centre Director, Jonathan Liberman, said the rapid rise in NCDs is hindering poverty reduction efforts in low- and middle-income countries, in particular by diminishing resources within families, reducing workforce productivity, and placing tremendous demands on health systems.

“In low-resource counties, healthcare costs for NCDs can quickly drain household resources and leave already vulnerable families without breadwinners – perpetuating and deepening the cycle of poverty,” Mr Liberman said.

The McCabe Centre collaboration with WHO will support development outcomes by building the capacity of low- and middle-income countries to implement legal interventions to reduce exposure to NCD risk factors; and improve laws to advance equitable healthcare as part of achieving universal health coverage.

The work will be carried out through a wide range of capacity building activities, including the McCabe Centre’s International Legal Training Program, knowledge sharing, and resource development.

Mr Liberman said this collaboration will see the McCabe Centre strengthen ties with the WHO, in particular in the Western Pacific region, where NCDs are responsible for 80 per cent of all deaths.

“Empowering others with the knowledge and skills to implement laws to reduce the enormous NCD burden on our closest neighbours is critical for poverty reduction and sustainable development in the region.

“Through our practical training and knowledge sharing, we support governments to introduce effective laws, and to defend them, when they are challenged in courts and tribunals,” said Mr Liberman.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper, said the designation as a WHO collaborating Centre reaffirms the McCabe Centre’s reputation as the only centre of its kind promoting law as an effective and essential tool in the prevention and control of NCDs.

“In the relatively short time that the McCabe Centre has been operating, great strides have been made in the management of many legal issues affecting cancer control. Through further collaboration with WHO, and cancer organisations globally, we look forward to the McCabe Centre furthering its impact around the world.”

The McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, established in 2012, is a Melbourne-based joint initiative of the Cancer Council and the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

To find out more about the McCabe Centre visit: