His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the 5th Combined Gulf Cancer Conference (CGCC) today (Monday), in the presence of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and Founder and Royal Patron of FOCP, International Ambassador for the World Cancer Declaration of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC.
Held from November 21 – 23 at Al Jawaher Centre for Receptions and Conferences in Sharjah under the theme “The Continuum Care for Better Cancer Control and Management”, the conference is organised by the Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) in collaboration with the Gulf Federation for Cancer Control and the Gulf Centre for Cancer Control and Prevention (GCCCP). The conference is aimed at combining and mobilising GCC efforts to develop and improve the quality of healthcare for cancer patients and raise awareness about the best practices followed throughout all the stages in the fight against cancer.
The Ruler of Sharjah attended a high level meeting under the subject of ‘The Scientific Centre for Cancer Studies and Research in the Gulf’, emphasising Sharjah’s cancer care continuum and control at all levels of research and treatment, underlining the importance of uniting all efforts to find efficient cancer solutions.
His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah welcomed the speakers, participants and guests, expressing hope in finding more effective treatments for cancer. “There are numerous attempts and efforts, and we must combine those concerted efforts to produce an effective promising treatment. For our part in Sharjah and through FOCP, we are sparing no effort not only in treatment, but also in scientific research, and we are keeping with the development of research which will achieve important results,” said His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah.
His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan AlQasimi toured the exhibition held on the sidelines of the conference and attended to the detailed framework of activities pursued by various cancer prevention and control entities in the GCC, their scientific research, specialised papers, studies and reports as well as publications.
The opening ceremony kick-started with the UAE’s national anthem, after which Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, said: “We are proud to host the 5th Combined Gulf Cancer Conference in Sharjah, as we seek to immunise our societies from all diseases. We are here to address challenges and find solutions to one of the most pressing issues affecting humanity’s health. We are enduring a long journey and in order to achieve true progress, it is vital that we leave no one behind,”.
“We progressed in many sectors, including economy, infrastructure, security, services, among many others. In order to consolidate these achievements, they must be reinforced by great successes in the vital sectors, especially the healthcare sector and scientific research that supports our ability to combat diseases,” Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi noted.
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi added: “The FOCP embodies the concept of partnership between society and institutions, and cooperation between the public and private sectors, to raise the public’s culture regarding disease and prevention, and today we hope that this conference will be a step closer to our common aspirations and a step towards fortifying life of individuals as well as public health. Our future will reflect our actions of today, and hence, experts must come together to create a strong foundation and find solutions in an effective and sustainable manner.”
Expressing her gratitude in hosting the conference in the UAE for the first time, H.E Sawsan Jafar Al Fahoum, Chairperson and President of FOCP’s Board of Directors, highlighted the inspiring experiences and outstanding efforts of the FOCP since joining the Gulf Federation for Cancer Control in 2006. “Sustaining raising awareness to reach the highest level of prevention remains our permanent mission,” she added.
Speaking about challenges facing cancer control efforts, Al Fahoum said: “The challenges can be divided into three, the first is the cultural and socioeconomic barriers in seeking medical advice, early detection programmes and the role of communication and media in cancer awareness and prevention. The second is addressing patients living with cancer and their post-recovery challenges, while the third revolves around the continuum of healthcare efforts,” she explained.
In his keynote address, Dr. Khaled Ahmed Al Saleh, General Secretary of Gulf Federation for Cancer Control, said: “The conference reflects the advanced understanding of the GCC’s health leaders and their belief in joint action to make health development successful in our Gulf countries.”
Describing the conference as a “milestone” in the GCC’s march of healthcare, Dr. Al Saleh said: “It is an opportunity to highlight the importance of scientific research in developing a better understanding of diseases for the wellness of humanity. Scientific research is embraced by forward-looking countries, while some other countries are still lagging behind.”
He expressed his deep gratitude to His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, for their continuous and outstanding patronage of non-profit civil societies. “The hosting of the cancer conference comes as no surprise to us, simply because the UAE is accustomed to adopting future issues in order to serve the forward-looking vision of our GCC nations,” Dr. Al Saleh concluded.
In his speech, Dr. Ali Saeed Al Zahrani, Executive Director of the Gulf Centre for Cancer Control and Prevention, outlined regional efforts in the field of cancer control. “The GCC’s march of joint action in cancer control began in 1998 with the establishment of the Gulf Centre for Cancer Registration with the aim of providing a reliable database on cancer incidence for decision-makers and policymakers to depend on for developing cancer control plans in the GCC countries, while the Gulf Centre for Cancer Control was established in February 2011 to prepare and review strategic policies and develop evidence-based guidelines in the field of cancer prevention and early detection,” he said.
Highlighting the importance of the Combined Gulf Conference, Al Zahrani said: “These conferences represent a real opportunity for oncologists and health professionals in primary health care, preventive medicine and public health; those interested in cancer care; as well as decision makers and public welfare organisations to network and share experiences.”
The 2022 cancer conference brings together 50 international speakers, as well as 500 experts and representatives of the region’s leading cancer control organisations, including HE Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qaisimi, Vice President of Board of Directors, FOCP; HE Dr Khaled Al-Saeed, Minister of Health – Kuwait; HE Dr Hilal bin Ali Al Sabti, Minister of Health – Oman; HE Dr Jalila bint El-Sayed Jawad Hassan, Minister of Health – Bahrain; HE Fahad bin Abdul-Rahman Al-Jalajel, Minister of Health – KSA; HE Dr Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari, Minister of Health – Qatar; HE DR Qasim Mohammed Qasim Buhaibah, Minister of Health and Population – Yemen; Dr Abdulaziz Al Muhairi, Chairman of the Sharjah Health Authority; along with a host of doctors and government officials.
The programme features panel sessions, dialogues, and keynote speeches on longstanding issues facing the sector including cultural and socioeconomic barriers to cancer awareness and prevention, and the difference early detection and screening can make in cancer care continuum and control, as well as in alleviating the economic burden of cancer.
The Combined Gulf Cancer Conference is held annually in one of the GCC countries. The first conference was held in 2017 in Kuwait, the second in Saudi Arabia, while the third edition was held in Bahrain. In 2020, the fourth conference was held virtually in Saudi Arabia, where the FOCP was named the host of the fifth edition in the UAE.