The two-month campaign, which focused on outreach and community education, was designed to increase awareness on the importance of early breast cancer detection in the UAE, and provide expat and local women with free and discounted mammography testing facilities during October and November.
As with most diseases, fear and lack of knowledge are major contributors to delayed detection of breast cancer. “The fact is that although breast cancer may be life threatening, research has shown that early detection significantly increases the chances of survival,” explained Dr. Mariam Matar, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health and Primary Healthcare, MoH.
“This is why our goal during this campaign was to spread the message that ‘early detection saves lives’, and drive as many women over the age of forty in the UAE to have mammography tests,” she stressed.
One of the most important practical aims during October and November was to facilitate the process of mammography testing for women in the UAE. “Free and discounted testing centres were set up across the Emirates in the hope that expenses would no longer act as a deterrent for women who are concerned about the monetary burden of the test,” said Zainab Khazaal, Ph.D. Acting Director, Preventive Medicine Department, Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre, Abu Dhabi.
Statistics show that the number of mammography tests done in the free centres during October and November was double to triple that of the tests done in other paid health centres. The number of mammography tests in centres offering discounts increased by an average of 62%.
In addition, a temporary toll free line was installed to give information on locations and working hours for all the participating centres. The response was extremely positive with the toll free line receiving more than 1000 calls over the past two months. The calls came from women of all ages and nationalities as well as several from men who were concerned about the well-being of their wives and mothers.
Rima Khadra, Communications Manager, Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd explained that although breast cancer is among the most common cancers in women, survival rates from breast cancer remain the highest, thanks to the benefits of early detection. “As a worldwide leader in the area of oncology, we feel it is our responsibility to communicate this message through community-based initiatives, in order to decrease the number of families that are touched by breast cancer in the UAE,” she explained.
GE Healthcare also showed their commitment to the campaign by offering their most advanced diagnostic technologies. “As GE is the world leader in Mammography detection equipment we are extremely honoured to have been a key partner in this year’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, and hope that women in the UAE now know the importance of early screening for the detection of breast cancer,” said Isam Moursy, General Manager, GE Healthcare, MEA.
The National Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign also included several educational lectures conducted across selected schools and corporations, and stands in malls providing shoppers with educational leaflets and information on the availability of the testing centres.
“As this year’s campaign draws to a close, we would like to re-iterate our message that early detection of breast cancer can save lives, and reinforce the importance of annual mammography testing for women over forty,” said Dr. Matar. “I would like to think that we have brought the UAE one step closer to removing the stigma traditionally associated with breast cancer, thanks to the commitment, passion and dedication of all those involved,” she added.
Wednesday, December 20- 2006 @ 13:54 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.