RIYADH: Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih launched on Sunday the GCC Cancer Awareness Campaign in all GCC countries to mark World Cancer Day which falls on Feb. 4.
The launch occurred in the presence of Director General of the Executive Bureau of the Council of Health Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council Dr. Tawfiq bin Ahmed Khoja, and Deputy Health Minister Hamad Al-Dhewalia who chaired the session.
The theme of the campaign, “40 percent protection, 40 percent cure,” is expected to be implemented throughout the countries of the region.
The campaign was launched under the slogan “40/40” on the basis of scientific evidence which shows that 40 percent of cancers can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle and habits of nutritional health, physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight, while the other 40 percent can be cured if diagnosed early and treatment occurs at the right time.
The health minister launched the program in his capacity as the chairman of the 40th session of the Council of Health Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The week’s program was held in conjunction with member countries of the World Health Organization to observe the World Cancer Day.
Al-Falih pointed out that timely diagnosis will help cure the disease with proper treatment.
According to Khoja, the Gulf community is not isolated from world events. Documented data of the Gulf Center for Cancer Registration (GCCR) and national records of GCC states showed that more than 119,000 cases of cancer had been recorded among GCC citizens between January 1998 to December 2009 (with an incidence rate of 72-158/100,000 persons), a rate which is much lower than other countries.
However, he said the incidence of cancer in the Gulf region is expected to increase during the coming decade due to the change in lifestyle and the increase of risk factors, including smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, and other environmental causes and changes in genetic mutations. In addition, statistics show that more than 60 percent of Gulf society is under the age of 21 years; in such a young society, the rate of cancer increases with age.
He noted that the campaign aims to raise awareness about the risk factors leading to cancer and to encourage public health, and protect the environment (water, food and air).
The campaign will also raise the level of health awareness about early detection of cancer and its importance in improving the chances of recovery, and activation of national programs to fight cancer, he added.
The official pointed out that the importance of this campaign stems from the global interest in this disease since it is one of the top causes of death in the world, and also affects individuals and society.
Khoja extended his sincere thanks and appreciation to Al-Falih, for sponsoring this Gulf campaign, highlighting that his sponsorship will help raise awareness against cancer in the GCC states. He also thanked the MOH staff and all committees and organizers for their efforts exerted to launch such an important campaign.