Breast cancer campaigners in Saudi Arabia to focus on genetic screening

The scope of the campaign extends to many regions of the Kingdom in conjunction with World Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (SPA)
Updated 03 October 2018

Breast cancer campaigners in Saudi Arabia to focus on genetic screening

  • The association is teaming up with 17 universities and educational institutes, 31 clubs and health centers, and 40 hospitals and laboratories between Riyadh and Al-Kharj
  • Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar and Princess Haifa launched the campaign

RIYADH: Princess Haifa bint Faisal, chairwoman of Zahra Breast Cancer Association, said that in the future, a breast cancer campaign will focus on genetic screening as the association launched its 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign in Riyadh.

The campaign will run throughout October. The association is teaming up with 17 universities and educational institutes, 31 clubs and health centers, and 40 hospitals and laboratories between Riyadh and Al-Kharj, the Eastern Province, western and southern areas, and more than 21 regions in Saudi Arabia. 

Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar and Princess Haifa launched the campaign in cooperation with several governmental and private sectors, at the Saudi Electricity Company Club.

Princess Haifa said the association will focus its efforts on examining patients through genetic screening to reduce cases of the disease being diagnosed at a late stage in an effort to cut mortality rates.

“The scope of the campaign extends to many regions of the Kingdom in conjunction with World Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“The campaign targets women in particular and society in general.”

Over the past 11 years, the association has reached more than 500,000 women in different regions of the Kingdom. 

At the launch event, several speakers shared their experiences of recovering from breast cancer. 

Samir Kurdy also talked about his wife’s inspirational story fighting the disease, which unfolded on Twitter under the hashtag #SuperDema. He said that his wife’s courageous example had given him and his young daughters strength. His wife died a month ago.

Pink Fingerprints

The Saudi Cancer Society has launched its “Pink Fingerprints” awareness campaign to combat breast cancer for a 12th consecutive year. 

The campaign, which will run throughout October through the Abdul Latif Jameel Center for Breast Cancer Early Detection, aims to increase early screening to help boost recovery rates.

The society’s chairman, Dr. Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Kanhal, said that the campaign will use the latest tools for early detection, including mobile clinics supplied with the latest equipment.

Mobile clinics will tour different parts of the Kingdom to reach the highest number of people at home.

An interactive awareness event for the campaign will be held for two weeks from mid-October at the Kingdom’s Commercial Center. Those who take part in the campaign will stamp their fingerprints on a wall as a sign of their support for the campaign.


Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

Updated 10 December 2019

Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

  • Wayakit leaves the clothes clean and fresh again

JEDDAH: Wayakit is a biotechnology start-up incubated by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics, leaving the cloths clean and fresh again.

Wayakit is also gentler on fabrics because traditional laundry eventually damages them, said Javier, who first moved to Saudi Arabia from Mexico ten years ago.

Her business partner, Sandra Medina, who came from Colombia to study at KAUST, explained to Arab News how Wayakit works. “You just spray the smelly area twice and you’re good to go. In the case of stains, you spray twice and then pat dry it with a tissue and it will disappear,” she said.

The idea for the product came during a trip for a conference two years ago when the travelers realized their luggage was lost “We had to present with our dirty, seven-hours’ flight clothes,” Javier told Arab News.

“We started looking into the possibility then, because there’s not a proper solution to doing laundry while traveling,” she said.

 

They decided they needed to come up with a product that was not pricey, was easy to carry, and did the job by removing stains and bad odors “on-the-go.”

 

 

The duo began by interviewing more than 100 travelers of 23 different nationalities to find out if this was a common issue that travelers struggled with.

 

“From the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, we learned the importance of listening first to the customers before designing any product,” said Medina. From these interviews, Wayakit team got the product requirements and then moved into the lab to start working on the formulation of Wayakit. “The amazing facilities and labs in KAUST helped us to speed up the creation of our first prototype. After this, the same KAUST community was the people who first tried Wayakit and gave us feedback. “In KAUST we do not only have state-of-the-art labs, but also a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Medina added.

Wayakit is different from its competitors in that it contains no toxic chemicals, and covers a broader spectrum in covering stains — it is two products in one. It also contains anti-bacterial properties, acting as a sanitizer that “removes all the stains that occur on a day-to-day basis as well as being an odor remover,” Javier said.

The pair went for a biotechnology-based formula that excluded the usage of oxidizers and focused on more organic compounds. “Even the anti-bacterial properties are not toxic as we incorporated these in an environmentally friendly formulation,” she said.

The Wayakit founders had to rigorously test their product, dealing with different types of sweat and stains to perfect their spray. “We had to give testers to travelers to try it out and had to listen to their feedback, then went back to the lab to improve it, in order to make sure the product was as promised.”

Medina said KAUST’s mentorship had also helped their company to develop. “KAUST for us is a catalyst of entrepreneurship and has given us a lot of room to grow our start-up Wayakit,” she said.

KAUST helped Wayakit by giving the advice and support from the start. From entrepreneurial courses to teaching the concepts of building a brand, KAUST encouraged Wayakit to grow from a scientific outlook and helped the founders to better understand the customer.

“As foreigners, it was difficult for us to understand the logistics and procurement of shipping and importing here in Saudi Arabia. KAUST has helped us to face that hurdle in order to be able to reach all our clients in the MENA region and worldwide,” Medina said. “Beyond helping travellers, our mission is to change the way how laundry is commonly done. We found a way to effectively wash clothes reducing water and energy consumption,” Javier said. 

Wayakit has recently began selling in Jeddah’s Homegrown Market, chosen because it is “a Middle Eastern brand store with unique ambience,” said Medina.