Qatar launches $605m cancer care strategy

May 31, 2011

Qatar has launched a QR2.204 billion ($605 million) strategy for cancer services that includes establishing a national centre for cancer care and research and a new cancer hospital over the next five years.

The National Cancer Strategy: The Path to Excellence, launched by Shaikha Moza Bint Nasser, Vice Chairperson of the Supreme Council of Health (SCH), is the first initiative of its kind in the region to combat a disease. It is closely linked to the National Health Strategy (NHS) announced in April, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported on Tuesday.

According to the latest figures, cancer accounts for 10 per cent of all deaths in Qatar. However, Qatar’s ageing and growing population will mean the incidence of cancer in Qatar will more than double by 2030. The new cancer strategy is built on the best international evidence and on the needs and views of the people of Qatar.

The strategy will see a major refurbishment of Al Amal Hospital, a medical facility for cancer patients, to have a comprehensive cancer-care centre under one roof without space constraints.

The refurbished hospital, to be renamed National Center for Cancer Care and Research, will act more than a service provider. Since the refurbished centre will be a medium term-solution for the next three to five years, a long-term solution will see the creation of a new cancer hospital at the HMC site in the next few years, the newspaper said.

People in Qatar contributed through a series of deliberative events and surveys held over the past few months to the strategy overseen by cancer surgeon Lord Darzi of Denham.

“The strategy aims to transform cancer care in Qatar,” Lord Darzi said. “It is the first disease-specific strategy of its kind in Qatar and cancer is highlighted due to its impact on the society as a whole. A survey conducted recently here showed that 86 percent of respondents knew some one who had cancer and some 93 per cent believed that smoking was closely associated with cancer,” he said.

The five-year strategy makes over 60 recommendations ranging from increasing cancer awareness to coping with survival or bereavement and aims at increasing education and understanding of cancer, through myth-busting campaigns and schools.

A campaign to refute the myths about cancer will be launched after the summer vacations and will have a renewed focus on prevention, including reducing smoking, increasing exercise and a good diet.

Qatar National Screening committee will be established soon as a permanent body to oversee screening programmes. Sub committees will be established by July to produce guidelines on who should be screened and how frequently.

A series of awareness campaigns on symptoms of cancer will also be launched for helping early detection.

The strategy will ensure fast access to a specialist which will be reduced to two-weeks by the end of this year and within 48 hours by 2015, if cancer is suspected. Patient-centred Treatment will be maintained through the introduction of new patient pathway co-coordinators to guide patient and families throughout the care. All patients will be treated by multi-disciplinary teams of clinicians by 2013.

More investment will be made in palliative care, including a specialist palliative care facility.

A new improved cancer registry, a new screening registry and national annual surveys will be launched and performance in cancer care will be published.

To meet the needs, 70 specialised doctors and more than 100 specialised nurses will be recruited at HMC for cancer care.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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