Position Statement: Protecting Human Rights and Travel Freedom for Cancer Patients and their Families, Researchers and Providers of Cancer Care

Authored by the IPOS Human Rights Task Force

Released: March 7, 2017

The International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS) is committed to the wellbeing and quality of life of cancer patients and survivors and their families worldwide. Therefore, IPOS advocates for humane physical and emotional care for refugees and immigrants worldwide without discrimination, as provided for in the Geneva Convention, especially those with cancer.

Given our organization’s focus on the well-being of cancer patients everywhere, we recognize the necessity for pediatric and adult cancer patients to travel freely to access medical, psychosocial and supportive care and for caregivers to travel freely to provide support for ill patients and other family members. When treatment is no longer effective, we recognize the right of every individual to palliative care and dying with dignity and the right of the loved ones to gather to honor and mourn their losses.

IPOS also supports international efforts to train health care providers in clear communication with patients and family members, support for shared decision-making and consideration of cancer patients’ states of distress and psychosocial needs. Freedom for researchers and care providers to acquire appropriate training, to work collaboratively in advancing care of cancer patients and to share ideas at international conferences is crucial to the rapid dissemination of research findings and progress in cancer care. Hence, IPOS strongly condemns the emergence of unjust and discriminatory policies which erect barriers that unnecessarily disrupt and disrespect the lives of many innocent people, among them, refugees from states with civil unrest, migrants needing cancer care, caregivers, and researchers and educators working to find cancer cures and to improve human health and well-being. These policies undermine the sense of community and collaboration which drives progress internationally. We encourage others to join us in sharing the responsibility of civil societies to protect those whose lives are made vulnerable by illness of any sort, by social unrest, poverty, or war.

Founded in 1984, the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS) was created to foster international multidisciplinary communication about clinical, educational and research issues that relate to the subspecialty of psycho-oncology and two primary psychosocial dimensions of cancer:

  1. Response of patients, families and staff to cancer and its treatment at all stages
  2. Psychological, social and behavioral factors that influence tumor progression and survival.