FoCP, Emirates Oncology Society and AstraZeneca join forces to reprioritise cancer care

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A new national campaign, called New Normal, Same Cancer, has recently been launched in the UAE by Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) and Emirates Oncology Society, in partnership with AstraZeneca, to ensure people across the UAE are accessing the cancer care they need in the wake of the pandemic.

The public awareness campaign calls on people to contact their doctor and prioritise a return to screening services and also contact their doctors if they present with any possible cancer signs and symptoms as part of a nationwide effort to reprioritise cancer care.

The impact of Covid-19 means that people with a cancer diagnosis may have had reduced access to treatment; or their routine screening service may have been paused. Equally, people with possible cancer signs and symptoms are often not seeking help or being diagnosed as quickly as they would have been prior to the global pandemic. The impact on patient outcomes and, possible mortality on a global scale, is the driving force behind this important new campaign.

While cancer remains a devastating illness during the pandemic, in 2020, there has been an approximate 40 per cent drop in patients being diagnosed with cancer globally. Research highlights that any interruption to the cancer care pathway can be detrimental to patient outcomes, so it is critical that people return to seek cancer care.

We are seeing more patients with advanced cancer, who are seeking help much later than they should due to the pandemic.

Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, President of the Emirates Oncology Society

Raising concerns about the expected fall in patients attending cancer screenings in the UAE, Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, President of the Emirates Oncology Society, said: “During the pandemic, especially during the local lockdown, significant numbers of patients have been postponing their hospital visits and treatment due to the fear of contracting Covid-19. What this means is that we are seeing more patients with advanced cancer, who are seeking help much later than they should due to the pandemic. This is unfortunately happening all over the world, not just in the UAE, and we expect this to continue for months to come. On behalf of Emirates Oncology Society, we value the New Normal, Same Cancer campaign and our partnership with FoCP and AstraZeneca in combating this misconception that check-ups can wait and hope to assure people that hospitals and clinics are safe to visit.”

Don’t wait. Contact your doctor. Get checked

New Normal, Same Cancer centres around three simple actions: Don’t wait. Contact your doctor. Get checked. The emotive message at the heart of the campaign highlights that, while the world is navigating a new normal, cancer has not stopped. Cancer continues to be one of the biggest global health challenges in 2021 and there is an immediate need to support patients to return to healthcare environments.

The pandemic has added an additional social barrier, and it is our priority to ensure that we support people with cancer and those at risk, encouraging them to continue to get the care and support they need.

Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, Director General of Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP)

Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, Director General of Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), added: “The World Health Organisation does not limit the definition of health to the physical, but also mentions the importance of mental, spiritual, and social health . At Friends of Cancer Patients, we have a similar mindset, aimed at tackling all four elements. The pandemic has added an additional social barrier, and it is our priority to ensure that we support people with cancer and those at risk, encouraging them to continue to get the care and support they need. We are delighted to partner with Emirates Oncology Society and AstraZeneca and hope our message is loud and clear; Don’t wait. Contact your doctor. Get checked.”

Speaking about the initiative, Peter Raouf, Director of AstraZeneca GCC Oncology Business Unit, said: “In 2020, cancer diagnoses fell by approximately 40 per cent globally. There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused a disruption in cancer care, and, together, as one healthcare community, we must act against this and encourage people not to wait. People across the region, and beyond, are waiting for the pandemic to pass through before contacting their doctor, despite noticing symptoms. This needs to change.

With our esteemed partners, Friends of Cancer Patients and Emirates Oncology Society, we hope that our New Normal, Same Cancer campaign will play a role in minimising the fall in patients receiving treatment and urge patients – Don’t wait.

Peter Raouf, Director of AstraZeneca GCC Oncology Business Unit

“As part of our mission to reshape cancer care in the UAE, we believe it should be an immediate priority to encourage the return to cancer care now, without delay. With our esteemed partners, Friends of Cancer Patients and Emirates Oncology Society, we hope that our New Normal, Same Cancer campaign will play a role in minimising the fall in patients receiving treatment and urge patients – Don’t Wait.”

For more information on support available, visit Focp.ae

Or schedule an appointment with your doctor and encourage your friends and family to get screened or continue with their routine check-ups.

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