Global Initiatives

The World Health Organization predicts that 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 internationally.

ONS Nurses Celebrating

World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day, on February 4, unites everyone in the fight against the global cancer epidemic. The campaign works to dispel the following myths:

  • We don’t need to talk about cancer.
  • There are no signs or symptoms of cancer.
  • There is nothing I can do about cancer.
  • I don’t have the right to cancer care.

There are numerous ways you can help with this initiative.

  • Follow the official World Cancer Day Facebook and Instagram accounts.
  • Add your event, activity or World Cancer Day activity to their Interactive Map of Impact.
  • Your chapter or institution can host a screening of LIFE Before Death, an intimate, hopeful and life-affirming story of living well and dying better, advocating for making the most of every moment in our life before death.
  • Sign the World Cancer Declaration as an ONS member.
  • Volunteer to translate World Cancer Day resources. Materials are currently available in English, French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. Send an email to if you would like to translate materials into other languages.

Volunteer Travel Opportunities

Share your knowledge by joining Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO). As an ONS partner organization, it 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.

ONS Statement of Sustainable International Initiatives

ONS and its affiliates, ONS Foundation and ONCC, respond in a collaborative manner to the need for sustainable programs globally. Sustainable programs are those that help nurses to build the capacity to influence change in their own regions and to improve cancer care through professional development. International efforts are driven by clearly identified needs in areas of the world where we have

  1. The opportunity to make an impact
  2. The capability to provide the necessary knowledge and logistical support to succeed.

To effectively deliver new or existing programs and resources internationally, such endeavors are deliberate and strategic. We collaborate internally to maximize opportunities where our goals intersect. In addition, we seek external partners in the spirit of shared risk and shared benefit, whose objectives and capabilities compliment ours.

ONS International Partners

ONS has an official Memorandum of Understanding with several international organizations, expanding our reach as we work to improve care for patients with cancer. 

International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC)
European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS)
Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology (CANO)
Middle East Cancer Consortium (MECC)
Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC)

Share Your Stories

If you have an international volunteering story to share, please contact

Costa Rica, September 2013

"I was able to spend one-on-one time with one of the nurses on the inpatient women’s oncology ward [of Hospital San Juan de Dios]. She acknowledged that there is no formal nursing education program at the hospital. As well, nurses do not receive much education during their orientation and certainly do not receive ongoing nursing education once they have been hired. She and I agreed to keep in contact; she will act as a liaison and will share any information with her colleagues that I send." Reanne Booker

Read Reanne's full story »

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, July–August 2011

"Working with local doctors, medical students, residents and the Honduran Undersecretary for Health, we provided a two-day conference for Honduran nurses working in cancer care; the first conference of oncology nursing ever organized in Honduras. The attendance was double the expected number, 100 each day, a strong indication of the interest and need for more education and collaboration." - Lisa Kennedy Sheldon, PhD, APRN-BC

Read Lisa's full story »

Havana, Cuba, December 2011

"The group learned about the extensive Cuban primary care health system. With more than 20 hospitals, nine of which have oncology services, and a growing pharmaceutical industry, Cuba has been very active in combining state-of-the-art cancer care with research initiatives." - Lisa Kennedy Sheldon

Read Lisa's trip summary »

Punta del Este, Uruguay, March 2011

"The role of the nurse in South America is not the same as that of the United States. The educational preparation received by the South American nurses is very different from ours, and it will take a great effort to raise them to the same standard as the oncology and clinical trials nurses in the US. However, I do believe that with the appropriate support and resources, it can be done." - Carmen B. Jacobs, BS, RN, OCN®, CCRP

Read Carmen's story »