Zulekha Hospital reported a record increase in the number of female patients registered for screenings and Pap tests during its ‘Smear, Don’t Fear’ cervical cancer awareness campaign with 1.82 million UAE-based women now at risk of developing the disease.
Inaugurated at the beginning of May by His Excellency Humaid Al Qatami, Chairman of the Board and Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority, the campaign saw more than 1,400 women taking the advantage of free specialist gynaecologist consultations and undergoing Pap tests and HP vaccines in Zulekha Hospital in Sharjah and Dubai.
“The response we received was overwhelming as the number of women making appointments tripled since last year,” said Zanubia Shams, Co-Chairperson of Zulekha Hospital. “This is a great success and a clear sign that our messages about cervical cancer being preventable through Pap tests and vaccinations get across and empower women to beat the disease.”
The campaign, which ran until 30 June with support from prominent doctors, local cancer campaigners and leading authorities, highlighted the importance of early detection as cervical cancer is the second-most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among women in the UAE.
Citing HPV Information Centre statistics from February 2016, Ms Shams added: “As many as 1.82 million female UAE residents are at risk of developing cervical cancer and our campaign will launch every year until we permanently eradicate cervical cancer from the country.”
Dr Pamela Munster, the campaign’s long-term ambassador and an internationally renowned cancer expert from University of California, San Francisco, said: “Cervical cancer is usually transmitted by a virus that can be completely eradicated and we want to make people realise that by vaccinating both girls and boys from as early age as nine up to twenty-six, it can be achieved.
“The virus takes about 20-30 years to develop into a cancer, so there’s a wide time-frame during which women can act to fight it. Pap smears do not hurt and they are extremely effective in preventing this type of cancer, so we are extremely pleased with the number of women who attended free consultations, received Pap smears and recommendations for the vaccine at Zulekha Hospital.”
To spread the awareness about the cancer and promote preventive screenings, Zulekha Hospital partnered with prominent doctors and local cancer campaigners and leading authorities including H.E. Humaid Al Qatami, Chairman of the Board and Director-General, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Dr Layla Mohamed Al Marzouqi, Director of DHA Health Regulation & Dubai Medical Tourism Project (DHA), Mrs Neeta Bhushan, Deputy Chief of Mission & Head of Chancery, Embassy of India, and Ms Reem Al Buainain, CEO of Positive Cancer Foundation, Abu Dhabi.
Dr Layla Mohamed Al Marzouqi, Director of Health Regulation Department and the Dubai Medical Tourism Initiative at the DHA said: “I’d like to thank Zulekha Hospital and Dr Zulekha Daud for launching this campaign for the benefit of the community of Dubai and the UAE at large. Dubai Health Authority always organizes as well as supports such health initiatives which are aimed to educate the public about the importance of regular health screening, early detection and disease prevention.”
Throughout the campaign, Zulekha Hospital also organised a series of health talks at public institutions and private organisations including Saipem, Al Bustan centre Dubai, Al Nabooda Dubai, Scientechnic Dubai, Lamprell Hamriyah Free Zone and Lamprell Port Khalid, to engage further with local communities.