Global Initiatives

The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030 more than 70% of the world’s total new annual cases of cancer will occur in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, which illustrates the need for ONS members to get involved globally.

Image of old globe with a quote on the right in a blue box

Cancer Around the World

More than 10 million new cancer diagnoses are made annually, with over half of them being in developing countries. Cancer kills more people worldwide than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. This is because the health systems in low-and-middle income countries are inadequately prepared to address the needs of the countries bearing the majority of this disease burden.

As this cancer burden grows there is substantial physical, emotional and financial strain on not only the individual patient and their caregivers, but the communities and health systems. This has led to a lack of access to quality and timely care for diagnosis and treatment. This has led to much lower survival rates compared to countries with stronger health systems.

Learn More

Rahman, M.M., Opo, F.A.D.M., Asiri, A.M., 2022. Comprehensive Studies of Different Cancer Diseases among Less-Developed Countries. Healthcare 10, 424..

Moten, A., Schafer, D., Farmer, P., Kim, J., Ferrari, M., 2014. Redefining global health priorities: Improving cancer care in developing settings. Journal of Global Health 4..

ONS Global Strategy

By combining member expertise, organizational experience and evidence-based educational resources ONS seeks to maintain an understanding of the state of oncology nursing across the world toward the ongoing betterment of oncology care delivery worldwide through supporting nursing education in low or middle income countries through multidisciplinary collaborations.

Global Volunteer Opportunities

ONS has collaborative relationships with a variety of organizations to meet the multidisciplinary needs of the global oncology community including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and City Cancer Challenge (C/CAN). Through these relationships we provide education and support to low-or-middle income countries across the world.

ONS is a member of ISNCC, an international membership organization of oncology nurse leaders dedicated to improving the health and well-being of people at risk for or living with cancer, promoting the nurse's role in improving cancer care, and developing nursing leadership in cancer care delivery. As a member of ONS, you are automatically a member of ISNCC also. This provides you with the additional benefits of discounted registration to the International Conference on Cancer Nursing (ICCN), access to ISNCC Blog and opportunity to submit posts and articles, and participation (non-voting) in annual general business Meeting.

Interested in volunteering? 

Check ONS volunteering opportunities or share your knowledge by joining Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO). HVO focuses on sustainable development in global health. It is dedicated to improving the availability and quality of health care through the education, training, and professional development of the health workforce in resource-scarce countries. 

Your Stories

Vienna, Austria 2023

"I am currently a project officer with the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy at the International Atomic Energy Agency based in Vienna, Austria. In my role, I lead projects to support Ministries of Health in their cancer control planning: specifically health systems analysis and national cancer policy/programme development. This support is delivered in close partnership with the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, who, along with the IAEA, share the UN mandate on cancer control...
Before working at the UN, I have been a clinical oncology nurse since 2011, first working in the US in a variety of oncology settings (medical oncology, surgical oncology, hematology/oncology, and outpatient chemotherapy infusion). I then spent several years as an oncology nurse educator at cancer centers in Haiti and Rwanda with the international NGO Partners in Health, where I supported the cancer center staff in continuing education, quality improvement, research and more. I embarked on that work in large part due to connections made during an ONS conference in 2017; in particular, fantastic mentors I met at a global oncology nursing panel event. I have a dual degree MPH and MSN in Public Health Nursing from Johns Hopkins University, as well as a Nursing Education Certificate, and also received an Oncology Nursing Foundation Masters Scholarship to support those grad studies."

- Laura Haskins

Baku, Azerbaijan 2023

"The ONS nursing course and the Multidisciplinary Cancer Management: Colorectal Cancer Care in Baku Azerbaijan was a memorable professional and personal experience. The Azerbaijani nurses were so gracious and delighted to have us there amongst them sharing our expertise in caring for cancer patients. The nursing profession is getting to be more visible in Azerbaijan, recently they have integrated a nursing curriculum at the medical school in Baku. Nursing is a global profession, no matter where you go in the world the principles and foundation are the same, providing holistic, compassionate and comprehensive care to cancer patients and their families."

-  Nina Grenon

Lilongwe, Malawi, 2019 

“Building the nurse’s clinical capacity by integrating content about cancer care into their nursing curriculum—which they don’t currently have—is vital. These nurses are hungry for that information. They’re aware of the global cancer burden, but they lack the oncology experts and resources to allow them to teach that content to students. Furthermore, we found common misconceptions about cancer care, like it’s only about treatment, side effects, and those who are dying.” 

- Ashley Leak Bryant, PhD, RN-BC, OCN® 

Read Ashley's full story » 

Sao Paolo, Brazil, 2018 

"During our time, we found that oncology nurses in Brazil face unique challenges. Brazil has a public healthcare system where resources are scarce, yet nurses find ways to provide the best care possible. There’s also a private healthcare system of independent institutions that have state-of-the-art facilities. However, those resources aren’t available to everyone. 

Oncology nurses from both systems are finding their voices and roles in advocating for patient care and developing new methods for meeting patient needs. For example, one Brazilian oncology nurse described her desire to provide better care to women who have no options left for active treatment. She wants to better support patients and their families during the transition from active treatment. Oncology nurses in Brazil are also exploring new nursing roles such as care coordinator and patient navigator to see how they fit into the context of care in their country."

- Julie Ponto, PhD, APRN, CNS, AGCNS-BC, AOCNS® 

Read Julie's full story » 

Baku, Azerbaijan, 2018 

"We were happy to see so many disciplines represented, and have nursing recognized and involved in this event. There are more similarities than differences in our respective practices. Even though in many instances we do not speak the same language, similarities in the way we care for our patients were readily communicated. We are hopeful that nursing is included in future interdisciplinary presentations in Azerbaijan, and that ONS will have ongoing opportunities to collaborate on exchanging information and experiences with the nurses there.” 

- Jeanie Rosiak, DNP, RN, ANP-BC, AOCNP®, CBCN 

Read Jeanie’s trip summary » 

Lima, Peru, 2018 

" This experience gave me plenty to learn from in my own work as an oncology nurse. I’m grateful for the opportunity, both professionally and personally, to have had the chance to visit Peru, develop sessions for our nurse colleagues, and work to improve cancer care for patients around the world."

- Paz Fernández Ortega, PhD, MSc, RN, BPsych 

Read Paz's story » 

Manila, Philippines, 2018 

" It was apparent that the section of the building where we were presenting was historic in appearance. The facility was bustling with staff, patients, and families. We were told that access to care often begins in the early morning hours with patients and families queuing up at 3 am for a clinical slot."

- Susan Weiss Behrend, RN, MSN, AOCN® 

Read Susan's story » 

Lima, Peru 2018

I am so grateful that I had this opportunity last year and I would like to share these thoughts with you.  I was inspired to finally take the leap into continuing my education, and started my Master’s Degree in January!  I am more motivated to complete and seek continuing education opportunities and attend conferences, and further involve myself in the community in addition to my previous involvement.

I am also so glad for the valuable friendships that I was able to make through this experience.  Paz is traveling to Pennsylvania for the PeP ONS meeting in Pittsburgh and we are arranging to meet during her time in PA to spend some time together.  Also, an RN Manager Cynthia from Oncosalud in Lima Peru is traveling to Pennsylvania as part of her rotation for her Master’s Degree program and is surprisingly coming to a local University in my region, with a hospital visit to the institution where I work, so we are planning to meet up and I will also arrange for a visit to the Cancer Center to meet members from my team.

It really changed my outlook on the power of nursing and the impact locally, nationally, and globally.  Many thanks for the opportunity and I hope to be able to do this again!

-Raiza R, ONS Speaker at Multidisciplinary Cancer Management Course

ONS wants to hear your international volunteering story. Are you impacting care around the globe? Tell us about it at