GENEVA: Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients Society, FoCP, and International Ambassador for the World Cancer Declaration of the Union for International Cancer Control, UICC, has launched the International Childhood Cancer Fund to support children with cancer worldwide.
The fund, the first of its kind in the world, is launched in cooperation with the UICC, and aims to save the lives of many of the 90,000 children who die of cancer each year. The fund will collect donations and provide financial support for awareness campaigns, provide healthcare and treatment, and fund emergency relief projects to provide care for children with cancer.
Sheikha Jawaher, also International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC, announced a donation of US$1 million through The Big Heart Foundation, to be the fund’s first revenue. She expressed her delight to be launching the International Childhood Cancer Fund, saying, “The fund will help alleviate the suffering of many children, especially those in low and middle-income countries which result in the deaths of eight children per 10 diagnosed with cancer, thus contributing to saving the lives of 30,000 children a year.”
She added, “The major challenge in combating childhood cancer is the difficulty of determining the risk factors that require medical intervention, unlike cancers in adults, which can be detected through awareness programmes and medical checkups.”
Sheikha Jawaher said, “What is the value of money if it is not used to prevent human suffering? Would not our lives become more beautiful when our children are safe and well and have access to better healthcare? International solidarity is essential to reduce child mortality and give them the opportunity to enjoy life. This requires substantial financial resources, government and community support and increasing support for healthcare systems, particularly in the area of children’s tumors, so as to contribute to reducing mortality rates to 40-50%. This would be a big achievement and should be the main focus for us all.”
Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi continued, “The fall in child cancer deaths is normally associated with strong healthcare systems, which can detect cancer early, diagnose it accurately and provide effective treatment. In this way childhood cancer can be cured by providing immediate and necessary treatment. Equal access to treatment, care and support for children with cancer is an important human right and must be on the agenda of health and humanitarian organisations at the international level, simply because cancer does not discriminate between children in one country or another. Any child of any age, anywhere in the world, can be struck by this deadly disease. Every effort must be made to increase survival rates in countries where people do not have sufficient financial resources for early detection and treatment.”
The International Childhood Cancer Fund was launched two weeks after Sheikha Jawaher visited the Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt (CCHE 57357) in Cairo, the largest paediatric cancer hospital in the Arab region, and called for free treatment, healthcare and psychological support to all children with cancer worldwide. She said that her mission is to reduce the suffering of children with cancer and mitigate the pain for their families and the burden on society and is in ongoing discussions with the UICC to find effective ways to do so.
She called on all authorities, organisations and institutions around the world to support the fund and to be active contributors to the survival of more children. She added that the UICC is an ideal partner for the fund, due to its professionalism and long experience in working with top scientists, doctors and researchers around the world to reduce cancer mortality worldwide.
The UICC President, Professor TezerKutluk, said, “We at UICC congratulate Sheikha Jawaher for her dedication to children with cancer, and are delighted to work with her and FoCP on this important initiative. As a paediatric oncologist, I am aware of the many challenges facing children with cancer around the world, particularly those from poorer backgrounds who have limited access to health infrastructure. While we have many effective treatments for childhood cancer that have raised survival rates significantly over the last 50 years, it is of great concern that these treatments are not available or accessible to so many children.”
Dr. Cary Adams, UICC Chief Executive, also expressed gratitude for Her Highness’s contribution. He said, “Her Highness’ commitment to our vision where all children, no matter where they live, are given the best opportunity to survive cancer, is highly commendable. Through her support, we will be able to reinforce the strong civil society movement and advocate for greater attention to childhood cancer. In the poorest parts of the world, even if children with cancer are referred to the appropriate services, they are often diagnosed very late. This inequality in access to timely diagnosis, treatment and care is unacceptable. For many families, the costs of childhood cancer are simply unaffordable and families often have to make heartbreaking decisions around treatment for their child.”
During the ceremony, the UICC President and UICC Chief Executive honoured Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi for her efforts over the years in fighting against childhood cancer worldwide, and helping to alleviate the suffering of the children with cancer.
Sheikha Jawaher was accompanied by Ameera Bin Karam, President of Board of Trustees and a founding member of FoCP, SawsanJaafar and Noha Safar, board members of FoCP, Noura Al Noman, Director-General of Sheikha Jawaher’s Executive Office, and Erum Mazhar, Advisor at the Executive Office.