UAE to host first-ever “Relay For Life” in the Gulf in November to raise funds for cancer research
WASHINGTON, DC, October 18, 2017 – Today, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Washington, DC, in partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS), hosted an event to celebrate the release of the inaugural edition of The Cancer Atlas in Arabic.
The Cancer Atlas is a comprehensive guide that consolidates research from 185 countries, outlining the global cancer landscape. The Cancer Atlas is used by cancer control advocates, governments, private and public health agencies and policy makers, as well as patients, survivors and the general public, in order to promote cancer prevention and control worldwide.
Healthcare leaders and senior diplomats also gathered to celebrate the “Relay For Life” 24-hour walk, which will take place in the UAE for the first time this coming November. The walk will raise funds to support cancer patients and their families in the UAE, and is being organized by the Sharjah-based Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) Society in collaboration with the ACS.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the number of annual cancer diagnoses in the Middle East in the next two decades will nearly double. The UAE is working closely with international healthcare organizations to implement preventative measures, increase early detection of the disease, and facilitate world-class treatment in the country and broader region.
UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba emphasized the importance of partnering with leading global institutions, like ACS, to help educate the public and raise funds to fight against cancer.
“With over 4,500 people diagnosed each year, cancer is one of the leading causes of premature death in the UAE,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba. “By working with organizations like ACS, healthcare professionals in the UAE can give physicians and regulators better tools to educate the public about this terrible disease, encourage more regular screening and early detection, and raise much needed funds to support patients and families,” he said.
The Ambassador continued, “For all the challenges cancer presents, I’m encouraged to know that there are so many passionate people dedicated to fighting the disease, raising awareness, and advancing research for cures.”
The event included a panel discussion, which outlined the UAE’s developing healthcare system and public health initiatives, such as its cancer awareness and prevention efforts. The panel was moderated by Ambassador Sally G. Cowal, Senior Vice President of Global Cancer Control at ACS and panelists included, Dr. Arnold M. Baskies, ACS Board Chair, Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic, incoming Cleveland Clinic CEO and President, and Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, the lead author of the Cancer Atlas.
The ACS began its relationship with the UAE through a partnership with The FoCP Society in 2014. FoCP is a non-profit organization located in the Emirate of Sharjah, dedicated to raising cancer awareness and providing medical assistance to improve the quality of life of those affected by cancer. ACS’s partnership with FoCP led to the translation of The Cancer Atlas into Arabic, as well as the UAE’s first-ever Relay For Life race.
Commenting on the relationship, ACS Board Chair Dr. Arnold M. Baskies highlighted future collaboration between ACS and the UAE.
“The American Cancer Society is honored to share our program, Relay For Life, with the people of the UAE. Nothing we do is more important than saving lives. All human beings, regardless of where they may reside, have the potential to develop cancer. Through Relay For Life, we all have the potential to prevent, treat and cure it.”
The UAE seeks to become a major center for world-class health care in the Middle East, for not only its own residents, but also for those in the region. The UAE has partnered with many leading global institutions to help in developing its healthcare system. Panelist Tomislav Mihaljevic, who previously held the position as head of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, outlined how the UAE is capitalizing on its strong strategic relationship with US healthcare institutions to bring expert care to the country and region.
“Cleveland Clinic is extremely proud to provide world-class care in the United Arab Emirates and help patients facing serious medical conditions at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi,” said Tomislav Mihaljevic, MD, incoming CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic. “I commend the UAE government for their commitment to enhance cancer services in the region that will enable patients to receive clinical excellence close to home.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) opened in Abu Dhabi in 2015, bringing some of the world’s best surgeons to the UAE. The facility offers a range of cutting-edge medical and surgical services, including institutes focused on heart and vascular, neurology, ophthalmology, gastroenterology and respiratory, improving the quality of care that patients receive in the UAE and throughout the Middle East. In addition to Cleveland Clinic, the UAE has partnered with other leading US institutions to manage facilities and improve the delivery of health care services in the country.
The event also brought together high profile representatives from the government, diplomatic community, and healthcare and health policy field. Senior officials from the UAE healthcare sector, including Dr. Yousef Al Serkal, Undersecretary of the Minister of Health and Prevention, Mohamed Al Hameli, Director of International Patient Care Division, Health Authority Abu Dhabi, Dr. Abdulrahman Mohammad Saleh Al Jassmi, CEO of Dubai Hospital and Dr. Mouza Al Sherhan, Consultant and Head of Histopathology Department at Dubai Hospital attended the event. Dr. Yousef Al Serkal highlighted some of the UAE government’s health initiatives being implemented to help prevent the rising cancer diagnoses affecting the UAE and Middle East region.