Pfizer has renewed its partnerships with United Arab Emirates-based cancer patient societies Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) and Emirates Oncology Society to mark World Cancer Day, the American multinational pharmaceutical company said in a statement released on Thursday.
The pharmaceutical company has reinforced its commitment to advance oncology care, encourage early detection, and support cancer treatment in the country.
“With a heavy toll on families, communities and wider society, simply put, cancer is one of the greatest health challenges we collectively face. Therefore, as part of our renewed commitment at Pfizer to Friends of Cancer Patients and Emirates Oncology Society, we want to ensure that we are doing everything we can across the UAE to support cancer patients,” said Pfizer Gulf Cluster Lead Lindsey Dietschi.
Cancer is the third leading cause of death in the UAE and according to GLOBOCAN 2020 – a global report released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – breast cancer is the most common cancer in the country, representing around 21.4 percent of the total number of new cases, followed by thyroid and colon cancer.
Dietschi said that while Pfizer was proud of the “significant progress” it has made in treating cancer globally, the fight was “far from over.”
“With the incidence of cancer on the rise in the country, particularly among younger age groups, we must act now to ensure greater levels of awareness, encourage early detection, and ensure improved access to effective medicines,” she said.
One in eight men and one in 11 women die from cancer, on average. GLOBOCAN 2020’s new estimates suggest that over 50 million people are living within five years of a past cancer diagnosis.
Thanks to new treatments, UAE patients have been fighting cancer and surviving, especially when detected early, according to Chairperson of FCOP’s Board of Directors Sawsan Jafar.
“… it is paramount that residents across the UAE know the risk factors and have access to vital screenings, which FOCP has been advocating and providing. This year, with the support of Pfizer, we will be working to ensure that we continue to empower individuals with the necessary tools and information so that they can take every measure possible to protect themselves and their loved ones from cancer,” added Jafar.
The rate of cancer patients is expected to grow two-fold in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries by 2025 compared to the rest of the world, said Dr. Humaid al-Shamsi, President of Emirates Oncology Society, stressing that their “first and most critical defense against cancer is early detection.”
“This year we will be working closely with Pfizer to further raise crucial awareness and ensure that cancer screenings as well as prevention measures remain a top priority for patients and healthcare professionals, despite the ongoing demands of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
A report released by the Swedish Institute for Health Economics (IHE) last week found that cancer cases in the Middle East could potentially almost double between 2020 and 2040 if immediate action is not taken.
Some of the challenges in the UAE outlined by the IHE included low health literacy towards the disease among the general population such as early signs of cancer, as well as fears of social stigma following a diagnosis and financial/job security concerns.