Jawaher Al Qasimi calls for international strategies to protect thousands of children around world from cancer
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients Society (FoCP), International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC, stressed that national strategies to fight childhood cancer must be an integral part of the overall programmes to control cancer and non communicable diseases in all countries of the world, with a special focus on the low and middle income countries.
The statement was made during Her Highness’ official visit to Tanzania to participate in the 11th African Conference of International Society of Pediatric Oncology, hosted by the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam in collaboration with Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP).
Her Highness called for developing international strategies to save the lives of the thousands of children suffering from paediatric cancer around the world, and mitigate its negative impacts on children, their parents, and the entire community.
Her Highness was received at Dar es Salaam Airport by Tanzania’s First Lady Salma Kikwete alongside representatives of regional and international healthcare organisations.
The visit by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi to Tanzania marks her first international participation within the framework of a partnership agreement signed with the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) in February, under the terms of which Her Highness took the role of a primary active and influential partner of the UICC in its upcoming projects.
The agreement came after The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) named Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi as the International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC, in June 2013.
During her visit, Her Highness touched upon a number of topics related to childhood cancer around the world. Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi said: “The large number of cancer affected children around the world requires us to unify efforts to raise awareness of this disease. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death among children in developing countries, which affects over 250,000 children every year. Around 90,000 children die from cancer each year and 80% of them are from low and middle-income countries”.
Her Highness affirmed that every child in this world has the right to be healthy, to grow up safe, and to receive education. She noted that this right is a humanitarian duty that the international community must help children reach, regardless their nationality, race, or religion, adding that she is seeking to help children fulfil their rights in her capacity as UICC Ambassador for Paediatric Cancer.
Her Highness said that many countries in the world do not prepare or provide a childhood cancer register and that many affected children have no access to medical centres or detection services.
She expressed confidence that the presence of special paediatric cancer strategies in various countries will be an important step to identify and supply the available resources, teams, and medical equipment needed as part of the planning to control cancer and take care of affected children.
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi called for increased cooperation on the international level in the fight against paediatric cancer through different initiatives such as vaccination for children in early ages to prevent certain cancers, in addition to providing early detection and care centres for cancer patients in rural areas to facilitate the accessibility of these services in low income communities. Other initiatives are the provision of necessary treatments as well as training for medical professionals on modern methods of diagnosis and how to deal with patients and their parents.
During the inauguration of the conference, Tanzania’s First Lady Salma Kikwete praised the efforts made by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi in humanitarian causes related to child care and women’s empowerment and in alleviating children’s suffering in the UAE, the Arab region, and the entire world.
During the conference, the attendees viewed a short film about the outstanding efforts exerted by Wife of His Highness Ruler of Sharjah in humanitarian causes locally, regionally and worldwide, through projects and initiatives in the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Somalia and the nearby countries, alongside her involvement in cancer awareness campaigns in the UAE, her support to women’s empowerment, children and young adults and the launch of campaigns to support refugees in war torn countries and in areas devastated by natural disasters.
After the conclusion of the conference, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher and Tanzania’s First Lady visited Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, the largest government hospital in Tanzania, where Her Highness visited a number of child cancer patients and expressed her hopes that they will overcome disease and resume their normal life activities, play and study with their peers. Her Highness met with some of the parents and listened to their suffering and their experience with their children during the journey to fight cancer. She underlined the importance of moral support to children and encouraging them to endure pain with stamina and patience in order to achieve integration between psychological and physical treatment to overcome disease and reduce suffering.
During her visit to the hospital, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi listened to a briefing from Dr Trish Scanlan about their efforts in treating affected children from different parts of Tanzania and about the hospital’s needs of medicines, technologies, and medical equipment to keep on offering support to patients. She met with a number of paediatric specialists and expressed appreciation for their role and humane efforts in reducing the suffering of children and offering medical support to them.
Her Highness visited the WAMA Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by Tanzania’s First Lady in 2006 to improve the life standard of women, girls, and other vulnerable children through education, economic empowerment and healthcare awareness. Her Highness listened to a briefing from Tanzania’s First Lady about the foundation’s social contribution, particularly in spreading community awareness against cancer and other serious diseases.
During the visit to Tanzania, Her Highness was accompanied by HE Noura Al Noman, Director of the Executive Office Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi and HE Ameera BinKaram, President of the Board of Trustees and Founding Member of Friends of Cancer Patients, HE Mohammed Al Zaabi, Charge’d Affaires at the UAE’s Embassy in Tanzania and Dr Sawsan Al Madi, Secretary General of the FOCP.
Worth mentioning that Sheikha Jawaher’s selection as an ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration comes in recognition of her outstanding efforts at both the local and international level and her significant contribution towards supporting cancer control policies, which includes the launch of initiatives aimed at raising public awareness about the danger of cancer and the importance of early detection, and providing best methods of treatment and care for patients as well as their families.
The UICC aims to improve survival rates for children with cancer in low and middle-income countries by making childhood cancer awareness an integral part of public health and development programs, and an essential part of children’s right to healthy life. Children cancer will be included in all related international conferences and declarations. National childhood cancer policies will be developed and implemented and the considerable variations in survival rates between countries will be admitted to take the necessary measures on the national, regional and international levels to fill this unacceptable gap.
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Yousef Al Taweel
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