Dubai, UAE, 12 March 2019 — The Economist Events’ second annual War on Cancer Middle East 2019, held in Dubai on Tuesday 12th March brought together global leaders in healthcare, policymakers and prominent thinkers to explore strategies to tackle the rising incidence of cancer in the region.
Discussions at the conference this year focused around how a cancer-care pathway should be designed, funded and implemented across the Middle East. Healthcare stakeholders also discussed what needs to be done to improve prevention, screening, early detection and treatment as well as ways to educate the population about healthy lifestyle choices.
Dr. Younis Mohammed Amin Kazim, chief executive officer, Dubai Healthcare Corporation (DHA), said: “Dubai is emerging as a population hub within the UAE, with 29 percent of the country’s population. This share is expected to increase in future due to economic growth, and greater insurance penetration. Dubai is witnessing growing burden of morbidity and mortality related to oncology. Oncology care in Dubai is available, but currently fragmented.
“We are working to enhance current cancer care in Dubai to offer a world class internationally recognised service to Emiratis, expatriates and foreign healthcare tourists. To deliver the services in the most financially optimal way we have to enhance collaboration with the private sector. This will minimise the out flow of patients seeking care abroad and utilise the savings to deliver cost effective improvements in local care,” added Dr. Kazim.
Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, president, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), speaking at the conference said: “We need strong and people-centred health systems, at the heart of which are empowered individuals and communities. In order to achieve this, we have to address the social determinants of health that create the large disparities in access to quality cancer treatment and care. We also need to adopt an all-of-society approach where governments, private sector and civil society work collaboratively to bring to life innovative, sustainable and appropriately resourced life-saving solutions for cancer.”
Dr. Tareef Yousef Alaama, deputy minister for therapeutic services, Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said: “Awareness is the responsibility of the whole community. We need to start a dialogue and keep it going. The Middle East suffers from many cancer risk factors such as obesity, smoking, infections, and genetics. The good news is that many of these are reversible or even preventable. The key to this is strong public health policies and initiatives.”
Other speakers at the War on Cancer Middle East conference included Dr. Omar Nimri, head of cancer prevention and control department, Ministry of Health, Jordan; Dr. Asem H. Mansour, chief executive officer and director-general, King Hussein Cancer Center; Zanubia Shams, co-chairperson, Zulekha Healthcare Group; Wahid Al Kharusi, president, Oman Cancer Association and Sima Jeha, director, Eastern Mediterranean Region, St. Jude Global, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
As part of The Economist Events’ War on Cancer Middle East conference, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) presented a preview of the findings of the Index for Cancer Preparedness. Alan Lovell, senior associate, health policy and clinical evidence, EIU, said: “Effective cancer control happens within the context of good, ideally universal, healthcare. Cancer planning and investment need to build up general resources and embed prevention, diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment interventions within wider primary, secondary and tertiary care. An important tool in this is building intelligence through high-quality population-based cancer registries. Creative use of a growing number of additional data sources should also provide invaluable further insight.”
Sima Jeha, director, Eastern Mediterranean Region, St. Jude Global, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, explained: “Many children with cancer lack the access and the financial means to get accurate diagnosis and quality care. The Millennium Development Goals resulted in reductions in infant mortality and deaths from communicable disease over the past two decades. This means children will live long enough to develop cancer. In many low- and middle-income countries, health care systems are not ready to adequately address non-communicable diseases such as childhood cancer. St. Jude helped develop a cooperative regional network of health care providers in the Middle East, POEM: Pediatric Oncology in East and Mediterranean Group (poemgroup.org), to build sustainable programs that strategically increase access to quality care for children with cancer in the region.”
War on Cancer Middle East 2019 is supported by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Other supporting organisations include the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), AmCham Abu Dhabi, British Business Group Dubai & Northern Emirates, the European Association for Cancer Research and The Economist Intelligence Unit Healthcare.