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Through social advocacy, the CSF aims to promote its goals at the level of policy decision-making. These goals cover the whole spectrum of activities and relate to all stages of the cancer patient's path.

The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on social advocacy. It changed the issues and priorities for policy-making, hampered face-to-face meetings and put new matters on the agenda.


We continued our advocacy work on the cancer screening programmes. In February, we reminded the political leadership and officials of the MSAH of the need to secure funding for the colorectal cancer screening programme in the General Government Fiscal Plan. As no political decisions were taken in the framework discussion due to the Covid-19 situation, we continued our advocacy work in the summer by contacting the working group of the Ministerial Working Group on Health and Social Services and the Government Ministerial Committee on Economic Policy. In August, we published a joint statement by the Finnish Cancer Registry and regional cancer centres on the importance of launching a colorectal cancer screening programme.

During the year, we tried to ensure that all municipalities where colorectal cancer screening is ongoing would continue to provide it until the national programme starts.

During the autumn, lung cancer and prostate cancer screening also came up for discussion. We joined in the public debate and prepared a legislative initiative on prostate cancer screening for parliamentary debate.

Health and social services reform

We were actively involved in the One Life organisation’s advocacy on health and social services reform. During the first half of the year, we arranged ten lobbying meetings with special advisers to ministers, officials from the MSAH and members of the One Life network in Parliament.

In the autumn, we issued a statement on the social welfare reform and played a key role in the preparation of the One Life statement. Some of the issues we raised were improved in the government’s version of the proposal after the consultation.

FICAN cooperation

We kept up contacts with all regional cancer centres, and in February organised FICAN cooperation days on the theme of psychosocial support. In late spring, the discussion on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the treatment and rehabilitation of cancer patients.

In the autumn, we met remotely with all the regional cancer centres. The planned 2020 tours of cancer care units was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, an agreement was reached with the cancer centres in the autumn to start the tours.

A joint project with FICAN Mid on patient involvement was also cancelled. Contrary to expectations, no decisions were taken on the funding of regional cancer centres. During the year, content was prepared for the Child Patient Pathway website, to be launched in 2021.

Social policy paper

As part of the implementation of the new strategy, the preparation of a CSF social policy paper for cancer organisations was drawn up. This sets out the organisation’s objectives in societal decision-making and serves as a background paper and guide for advocacy work. The policy paper will be adopted in spring 2021.

We have been actively monitoring the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer treatment and screening. We also lobbied on the Covid issue by contacting ministers and officials at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on the possibility of changing the Covid guidelines to allow visits by asymptomatic relatives to patients in hospice care at all times. We also contacted the Minister of Education to amend the Basic Education Act in cases where a child would need special educational arrangements due to a carer’s serious illness.

Clinical research

In 2019, we continued our cooperation with the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, the Finnish Medical Association and Pharma Industry Finland to develop clinical research. In March, we requested an increase in government funding for university-level health research (VTR funding) in a joint message to the political leadership and top officials of the MSAH. Before the budget negotiations, we were in contact with the chairpersons of the governing parties and their special advisers, the ministers of education, economic affairs, basic services and social affairs and health and their special advisers, as well as with officials at the MSAH, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry of Education and Culture. We also published a joint position paper on the subject. Our lobbying work was not however reflected in the draft budget.

The Cancer Foundation’s Research Director was elected as an alternate member of the MSAH’s national health research evaluation group, whose work is related to the funding of clinical research. The main focus of the group’s meetings was to improve the funding of medical research at university level. At the end of the year, the group submitted a declaration to decision-makers on the development of state research funding.

Tobacco policy

In the spring, we prepared a target document on tobacco law reform and submitted it to the special advisers of the members of the Ministerial Working Group on Health and Social Services. However, the reform of the Tobacco Act was delayed due to the pandemic. Tobacco authorities in Finland and abroad were extensively contacted and provided with information on issues such as e-cigarettes and snuff. In addition, cooperation with the Finnish Association for the Development of Vocational Education and Training was established to promote nicotine-free education in vocational training.

Rehabilitation advocacy

We prepared a background paper on the development of rehabilitation for cancer patients, in which we presented refinements to the recommendations of the Rehabilitation Committee, which the MSAH had announced it would start to promote. In the autumn, we met with the MSAH officials responsible for rehabilitation reform and with the minister’s Special Adviser.

Advocacy for the funding of organisations

The Ministry of Finance’s draft budget for 2021 included a cut of up to a third in the amount of funding by the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations (STEA, formerly the Finnish Slot Machine Association) for health and social welfare organisations. We lobbied actively to change this. We prepared text templates for member associations to use when sending messages to decision-makers and writing opinion pieces. Together with other One Life organisations, we also sent a message to the members of the government Ministerial Working Group on Health and Social Services, the members of the Ministerial Finance Committee and their special advisers, the chairs of parliamentary groups, the social affairs experts of the group secretaries and the members of the One Life network in Parliament.

The advocacy work of the health and social welfare organisations yielded results: STEA funding for 2021 remains at the same level as in 2020, and the government decided to start preparing a reform of the Lotteries Act, which may yield a more long-term solution to the funding problem.

One Life collaboration

The One Life health initiative also conducted joint municipal election campaigning. Common goals for municipal election were adopted in August and were also made available for regional actors to use. We bought welfare-themed material from the Ellun Kanat consultant agency to support the advocacy work, and were heavily involved in its production. Training was organised for the regional actors of the organisations in the municipal elections, and we were also involved in the training. In the late autumn, One Life met with the parties and presented the common goals for the municipal election, and a joint ‘campaign machine’ was created, namely the website for identifying candidates strong on health and welfare issues.

In November, One Life held a webinar on promoting work capacity titled Let’s Talk About Money. A record number of more than 170 participants attended. It was decided to postpone the application for the new One Life project until 2021.

Parliament’s One Life Network met twice. In February, to discuss quality work in health care, and in September on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on long-term illnesses and care debt.

Medicines policy

Contrary to the plan, pharmaceutical policy advocacy based on our own research was not yet launched in 2020. The Access to Medicines project of the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL), continued in 2020, and as part of it we, among other things, worked on the ECL’s Fair Pricing output.

Other advocacy work

Early in the year, we worked with the Finnish Breast Cancer Association – Europa Donna Finland to persuade the Southwest Finland Hospital District to improve its breast prosthetics reimbursement practices, which had been significantly worse than elsewhere in Finland.

EU Beating Cancer Plan

We actively followed the preparation of the European Beating Cancer Plan and provided our views to the ECL for the preparation of the ECL background paper. We participated in an open consultation organised by the Commission and also submitted our views to the MSAH for information purposes.

Opinions and hearings

We issued the following statements during 2020:

  • Statement to the MSAH on the amendment of the Centralisation Regulation (February 2020).
  • Statement to the EU Commission on the EU Cancer Plan Roadmap (March 2020)
  • Statement to the MSAH and participation in a hearing on the need for legislative changes in hospice and palliative care (March 2020)
  • Statement to MSAH on client charges in social and health care (March 2020)
  • Statement to the Ministry of Health on the increase in alcohol tax (September 2020)
  • Statement to MSAH on social welfare and regional government reform (September 2020)
  • Written comments on e-cigarettes to the EU Commission’s Scientific Council on Health and Environment (October 2020)

Strategic research

Strategic research here refers to practical health policy research related to health policy decision-making and the implementation of decisions.

In 2020, a study was conducted on the legislation on snuff and nicotine pouches in Sweden, its neighbouring countries and the European Union. The study identifies gaps in legislation and proposes legislative improvements to the current regulation, in particular to protect young people from using snuff and nicotine pouches. The study will be published in an international scientific journal and its results disseminated to national and international tobacco experts.

In 2020, a collaborative study on the endgame objective for tobacco policy will be published, based on the Finnish experience. The study looked at tobacco policy from the perspective of children’s rights and the principle of “the best interests of the child”. The article was commissioned for the peer-reviewed monograph Human Rights and Tobacco Control (Edward Elgar Publishing).

A research project on new anticancer drugs explores the role of new anticancer drugs in modern cancer care, their evaluation and uptake, and future prospects. The qualitative interview data for the study was collected and analysed in 2020 and presented at the Research Network for Rational Pharmacotherapy(RATTI). The first articles will be published in 2021.