Dubai First and Dubai Ladies Club back initiative to encourage regular checks; women offered free specialist consultations, Pap tests
Dubai, UAE, 18 May, 2015: Zulekha Hospital, a pioneer in UAE healthcare, is spearheading a new cervical cancer screening and prevention initiative to help reduce the incidence of the disease and save lives across the Emirates.
The ‘Smear, Don’t Fear’ campaign has been developed by Zulekha Hospital with the active support of the Dubai Ladies Club and leading consumer finance company Dubai First as part of their CSR support targeting women between the age group of 35-65 years.
While this is the high-risk group, cervical cancer can affect anyone over 25 years and the risk of the disease, as well as the importance of regular checks for early detection were highlighted at today’s official launch press conference by eminent doctors and cancer campaigners.
They included Dr Pamela Munster, renowned cancer expert from the University of California in San Francisco, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading universities in health sciences; Dr. Layla Mohamed Al Marzouqi, Director of DHA Health Regulation and Dubai Medical Tourism Project; Huda Abdalla, Board Member of Dubai First & Chairman of Women Advisory Committee ; Lamia Abdulaziz Khan, Director of Dubai Ladies Club; and Zanubia Shams, CEO of Zulekha Hospital, along with leading gynaecology specialists from Zulekha Hospital.
“The key message of the new campaign is to remind young professionals of the importance of smear tests and show that together we can help prevent cervical cancer if the disease is identified at an early stage,” said Zanubia Shams.
The prime objective behind the new initiative is to educate women about the symptoms, risks and prevention of the second most common cancer affecting hundreds of thousands worldwide, as more than 92% of those diagnosed in the early stages can be successfully cured.
From now until 31 August, women can take advantage of free specialist consultations and Pap tests at Zulekha Hospitals in Dubai and Sharjah.
As part of a larger and ongoing outreach initiative, men are encouraged to support or even accompany their female friends and family members to the clinics when the women are tested for the HPV virus which can cause cervical cancer. The campaign also urges everyone to wear a cervical cancer campaign ribbon to show support and help create awareness about the disease.
Dr Pamela Munster said: “Early detection means it is possible for the majority of cases to be cured, and we want to also help to remove the stigma that is sometimes associated with the disease as it only impacts sexually active women. Our goal is encourage women to have regular checks at their local clinic at least every three to five years.”
The long-term goal of the campaign is to implement a population-wide vaccination drive to permanently rid the UAE of cervical cancer. Since women do not report any noticeable symptoms until after the cancer has invaded the surrounding organs or spread to the lungs, detecting the virus early is crucial.
Speaking at the campaign launch Ms. Huda Abdalla, said, “This is a fantastic initiative and Dubai First is delighted to be associated with Zulekha Hospital for this noble cause. Awareness campaigns play a vital role in educating women about the success rate of early detection of cancer. We will be working closely with Zulekha Hospital to ensure that this is a long-term initiative that generates a real impact on women and families across the UAE, which complements our CSR programme and efforts to contribute to the community.”
Lamia Abdulaziz Khan, commented: “Women tend to ignore their health, which is why Dubai Ladies Club has always been committed to helping raise awareness about the importance of regular health exams and tests that can help find problems before they start.
“By getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life. We are delighted to support this initiative by Zulekha Hospital that is making our community a healthier place.”
Dr. Layla Mohamed Al Marzouqi, said: “Awareness about cervical cancer is critical for early detection and to help save lives. Initiatives such as this encourage women to go for annual screenings and re-emphasise the importance of regular screening and early detection.”
Zulekha Hospital is strengthening its capability to treat patients suffering from cancer in Dubai and the Northern Emirates through the construction of a AED200 million centre for advanced specialised oncology treatment.
Staffed by specialists including radiation oncologists, physicists, and radiation therapists and managed as a centre of excellence for cancer care and research, the new Dubai facility is scheduled to open in early 2017.