Cancer Care in the Middle East

Attending the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) has been quite a humbling experience. There are so many leaders within the public health arena that are paving the way for international collaboration and progress forward.

During my time at the WHA I was fortunate to attend a talk by Dr. Sawsan Abdul Salam Al Madhi from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) called the Actions of the Social Determinants of Health to Promote Healthy Urban Settings. When considering today’s environments there are a multitude of factors that contribute to cancer risks such as a lack of opportunity for physical activity, poor access to fresh and healthy food, an increased exposure to pollution and tobacco smoke. While the medical care primarily focuses on disease treatment, there is little infrastructure and support for preventive approaches to health care.

The UAE is certainly leading the way in preventive cancer care. Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammaed Al Qasimi and the UAE Ministry of Social Affairs founded the non-profit organization, Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP). FoCP has provided support for more than 1,300 patients and families, regardless of age, gender, religion, nationality, or ethnicity. Not only does FoCP provide financial support for cancer screening and treatment, but it also provides emotional support services through counseling and psychological sessions. FoCP also has an Early Detection Program which aims to promote awareness for various cancer screening such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, skin cancer and childhood cancer.

Also during my time at the WHA I was able to meet with Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired of Jordan. As a mother of a cancer survivor, HRH Princess Dina Mired founded the King Hussein Cancer Foundation (KHCF). The KHCF offers preventive cancer screening services as well as treatment services for individuals suffering from cancer and their families. HRH Princess Dina Mired is truly an inspiration in the fight against cancer and in the goal of equitable care for all.

Isha Kali is a Master of Public Health student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

The USC Institute for Global Health organizes an annual trip to the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the course “Global Health Governance & Diplomacy in Practice in Geneva at the World Health Assembly.”  This year, a group of 12 students are  embedded as delegates to NCD Alliance members at the 69th World Health Assembly May 23-28. 


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