Dubai, UAE: Zulekha Hospital has reported a record increase in the number of female patients registering for screenings and Pap tests during its “Smear, Don’t Fear” cervical cancer awareness campaign.
According to the hospital, 1.82 million UAE-based women are at risk of developing the disease.
Inaugurated in the beginning of May by Humaid Al Qatami, Chairman of the Board and Director-General of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the campaign saw more than 1,400 women taking advantage of free specialist gynaecology 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 taking 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 June 30 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.
“As many as 1.82 million female UAE residents are at risk of developing cervical cancer and we will carry out our campaign every year until we permanently eradicate cervical cancer from the country,” Shams added, citing HPV Information Centre statistics from February 2016.
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 as nine years up to 26, it can be achieved.
“The virus takes about 20 to 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 effective in preventing this type of cancer. So we are pleased with the number of women who attended free consultations, received Pap smears and recommendations for the vaccine at Zulekha Hospital.”
Throughout the campaign, the hospital 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 with local communities.
© Khaleej TimesJul 2016