In Conjunction with the Third GCC Cancer Awareness Campaign, the non-profit charitable society, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) has concluded a series of awareness activities and programmes from February 1-7 in Sharjah and Dubai to foster greater public awareness about cancer, with an emphasis on the importance of early detection.
Through planning these events, FOCP stresses its commitment to being part of all local, regional and international initiatives deployed to combat cancer. The weeklong awareness activities were organised in line with the goals of the GCC cancer awareness campaign under the theme ‘40% protection 40% cure’, launched by the Gulf Union for Cancer Control (GUCC), to raise awareness of all types of cancer, in-conjunction with World Cancer Day on February 4.
HE Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of FOCP's Board of Directors, said: “Organising these awareness activities align with the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Founder and Royal Patron of FoCP, for concerted community and institutional efforts to fight cancer. Our aim is to raise awareness about the different types of cancer and highlight the importance of early detection, which is key to reducing cancer mortality – all in line with the goals of the National Agenda leading to fulfilling the goals of UAE Vision 2021.”
Jafar underlined the role played by FOCP as one of the active members of the Gulf Union for Cancer Control, saying: “This is our third participation in the GUCC’s GCC campaign that stems from FOCP’s belief in the need to formulate a common GCC vision for combating cancer and spread its messages across the GCC countries, which uphold a common culture and shared environmental conditions”
She noted that the Third GCC Cancer Awareness Campaign is themed ‘40% protection 40% cure’, to highlight the findings of scientific studies and research released by the World Health Organization (WHO), which confirmed that 40% of cancers be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyles represented by healthy eating habits, regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight. The report also underlined that another 40% of cancers are curable if diagnosed early and receive timely treatment.”
Among its activities, FOCP organised awareness drives in collaboration with several government entities that involved a series of lectures and workshops offering community members information and advice on how to deal with cancer, and offered free medical examinations and entertainment programmes for a group of cancer patients, survivors and their families.
Dr. Saleh Al Othman, Executive Director of the GCC 40X40 Cancer Awareness Campaign, illustrated that the series of cancer awareness campaigns were launched in 2016. He pointed out that the centre’s database, which features more than 165,000 cancer cases from the past 16 years, indicates that the Gulf is one of the world’s least regions that features cancer cases among its residents with a rate of 78-158 cases per 100,000 people. It is anticipated that the number will redouble in the next 10 years, given the rising rate of smokers, bad patterns of diets, bad healthy lifestyles and lack of exercise.
More than 50 percent of the cancer cases that are diagnosed in late stages are difficult to be cured, while about 95 percent of the cases that are detected in the early stages are more likely to be cured. The main reasons behind late detection are the lack of awareness about cancer signs and symptoms, and the fail to undergo periodic cancer examinations and screening.
“This year, the campaign was launched in more than 40 cities in the Gulf region under the theme ‘40X40… The Decision Is Yours’, and featured more than 155 associations, government and non-for-profit organisations,” he said.
FoCP also rganized an awareness day at Dubai Municipality where medical advice and free blood pressure and diabetes checkups were availed by community members. It hosted an awareness day for Allesely School students and their mothers, and another one targeting a group of women cancer survivors at Coral Beach Resort in Sharjah. An activity on healthy nutrition was rganized at Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation where attending survivor mothers were given tips on how to maintain a healthy diet.
FoCP also installed a number of monitors at Sharjah Municipality’s waiting areas that played awareness messages for the public. Other activities included sending group emails carrying awareness advice and healthy tips to the Sharjah Municipality staff. Signboards were installed at Al Noor Island to educate visitors about the GCC cancer awareness campaign. They shared 17 awareness messages on the FOCP Instagram account to increase its outreach to a larger audience.
FOCP was established to help alleviate the financial and emotional burden that cancer often imposes on patients and their families, and to promote awareness about the six early detectable forms of the disease; breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, testicular cancer and colorectal cancer. Since being founded in 1999, FOCP has provided support to more than 4,200 cancer patients of all ages and nationalities across the UAE.