Dubai: In line with the World Cancer Day 2022 theme, ‘Close the Care Gap’, and to mark the Gulf Cancer Awareness Week from February 1-7, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) — a UAE-based civil society organisation — is stepping up efforts to make cancer a part of public conversation and to bridge the gap in cancer awareness by exploring barriers that lead to inequities in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
With more than ten million people succumbing to cancer globally in 2021, FOCP’s action-oriented strategies align with its vision for a cancer-free world and builds on its considerable achievements over the past 22 years in providing moral and financial support for cancer patients, raising awareness on prevention and promoting a healthy lifestyle among the UAE community. FOCP’s cancer prevention and control interventions and advocacy measures have been further strengthened through its partnership with the Union for International Cancer Control.
The group’s extensive range of positive and inspiring community engagement activities to mark the annual Gulf Cancer Awareness Week is organised in collaboration with the Gulf Federation for Cancer Control and reinforces the entity’s leading role at the frontlines of all local, regional and global initiatives aimed at reducing the burden and impact of cancer, which is today the second leading cause of death worldwide.
Virtual fitness challenge
To close the gap in funding — a key barrier that stands in the way of cancer care — FOCP launched the ‘Relay for Life’ app. The healthy team-building activity, targeting both corporates and individuals, also aims to raise public awareness and act on reducing risks while also raising funds to support those affected by cancer. To join the challenge, as a corporate team or individual, residents and visitors in the UAE must download the RFL smart app, register online and sign up for the challenge. This inspiring community experience gives every member of the society a chance to celebrate cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost to cancer and raise funds to support those fighting cancer.
In line with the theme of ‘Close the Care Gap’, FOCP will start a conversation about cancer and the equity gap by hosting two webinars targeting audiences of all nationalities that will address various risk factors and prevention strategies, and the impact of the disease on families and communities.
On February 3, the relationship between obesity and cancer will be explored in a virtual awareness lecture on the Zoom platform at 11am. The session, led by Dr Mo’ez Al-Islam Ezzat Faris, associate professor, Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, College of Health Sciences, University of Sharjah, will offer a detailed understanding of the interplay between obesity and cancer through latest research findings.
On February 9 at 11am, Dr Osama Kamal Alala, currently a specialist in Health and Physical Activities at the Ministry of Education, will lead a webinar highlighting the close relationship between physical activity and cancer.
Free medical screenings
Building on its experience in facilitating evidence-based strategies for cancer prevention, FOCP will help close the gaps in accessing quality care with free medical consultations and mammography screenings for all UAE residents.
On February 3, FOCP had provided free cancer screenings through the Pink Caravan medical mobile clinic at Sharjah Ladies Club
Illuminating iconic landmarks
FOCP is making a ‘visual’ statement to mark World Cancer Day this year by lighting up two popular landmarks in the UAE, in solidarity with and as a sign of support for those living with cancer.
As a critical pillar of support for cancer patients in the UAE, FOCP will lend moral support and uplift the spirits of those impacted by cancer with a virtual music concert led by Bianca Mirpuri under the banner of Music That Heals. Featuring student performers, the concert will also help raise funds to support individuals on their health journey.
A panel discussion titled ‘I am Inspired’ on February 7 will see cancer survivors share their experiences of fighting cancer and their key learnings to inspire and empower others on their journey.
Promoting health messages on social media
FOCP is taking action to spread the word on social media and reach a larger section of community members with custom posters that reinforce its key messages of cancer awareness. Through 11 unique posts on its social media handles, FOCP will advocate the importance of prevention and early detection to bring about lasting change and reduce cancer burden.
In honour of World Cancer Day, FOCP will also post a special video of cancer survivors across its social media platforms @focpuae to raise awareness on the need to close the gaps and remove the inequities and barriers of cancer prevention, diagnosis and effective treatment for all people worldwide.