Cancer education and awareness is one of 16 priority areas in the soon to be launched Qatar Public Health Strategy 2017-2022, with the main objective of enforcing the message that “early detection can save lives.”
Cancer is the third leading cause of death in Qatar, according to the World Health Organization Non-communicable Diseases Country Profiles 2014 Report.
Early detection of cancer is recognized to increase the chance of successful treatment. For example, when bowel cancer cases are diagnosed at the earliest stage, more than 9 out of 10 people survive for at least 10 years. However, if diagnosed at a late stage, survival is below 5%.
Prevention is also key when it comes to cancer awareness. The risk of developing cancer can be reduced by following healthy lifestyle habits that include limiting UV ray exposure from the sun, consuming a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking.
“Sixty percent of cancers can be prevented by early detection, avoiding risk factors or changing lifestyles,” said Sheikh Dr. Mohamed Hamad Al-Thani, Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), during his speech at launch event for the National Cancer Framework 2017-2022 earlier this month. He added that “more than 60 % [of diagnosed cancer cases] can be cured.”
In line with its pledge to improve the health and wellbeing of the Qatar population, the Public Health Strategy recognizes the need to educate people more effectively about the facts on cancer. In order to achieve this, the strategy has set a number of objectives, including myth refutation, integrated health sector awareness activities, and the continuous development of cancer screening programs offered by the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC).
In an attempt to make more informed decisions and better define priorities, the MOPH has published an online health survey, where the public can provide information on what their perceptions and priorities are when it comes to public health. Feedback will be analysed to ensure that the final strategy is robust and fit for purpose. The survey and the current Public Health Strategy can be found at phs.moph.gov.qa.
The National Cancer Framework 2017-2022 can be found at moph.gov.qa/publications.