In the presence of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients, FoCP, the Pink Caravan Ride, PCR, breast cancer awareness campaign by UAE-based civil society organisation, FoCP, begun its 10th annual ride on Wednesday in Sharjah.
The nation’s premier breast cancer awareness campaign is celebrating its milestone year with a 10-day ride this time, which will conclude in Abu Dhabi next Friday, 6th March.
A group of 350 doctors and medical professionals, 150 riders and over 100 volunteers will be travelling 150-plus km across the seven emirates, advocating the importance of regular screenings and early detection of breast cancer in successfully tackling the disease.
The ride, which has adopted the slogan "Plenty is not enough" for this edition, aims to deliver 10,000-plus free screenings across seven fixed clinics to citizens and residents of the UAE this year.
The Sharjah Ruler and his wife signalled the start of the ride at the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, where the opening ceremony was hosted.
"Society doesn’t develop and grow without combined efforts," Dr Sheikh Sultan said in his inaugural address, adding, "We want to pass on to our children the values of volunteerism and community service."
He added, "On behalf of Sharjah, Sheikha Jawaher has led tremendous efforts to establish several centres dedicated to cancer awareness, treatment and research around the world. Some are already operational and others will be launched soon. In mid-March, the UAE will witness the launch of the Sharjah Cancer Research Centre for Cancer. Also, a new building for the National Cancer Institute at Cairo University will be inaugurated."
Addressing the ceremony’s attendees, Sheikha Jawaher said, "Today, as the PCR enters its 10th year, your ambitions have not weakened. You have instilled awareness that was not there 10 years ago, attracted more partners and supporters, given the same people the courage to take control of their wellbeing who would not touch a taboo topic or did not know that breast cancer affects both women and men."
Stressing that the PCR's work will not end until cancer is eradicated, Sheikha Jawaher noted, "I am pleased to announce that the campaign has a new partner and advocate, Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Department of Government Relations, who will be serving as Special Envoy."
Reem BinKaram, Head of PCR’s Higher Steering Committee, reaffirmed the campaign’s vow to "continue our ride until our message of the importance of early detection to confront the dangers this disease poses to society, reaches every home, individual and institution in the UAE.".
Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of FoCP Board of Directors, emphasised that FoCP designed this campaign to realise the vision of Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi to build an educated and informed society.
Titled "Social returns on investment: A driver of sustainable access to quality cancer screening", a panel discussion was organised at the opening ceremony, moderated by Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi, Director-General of FoCP and Head of the PCR Medical and Awareness Committee.
Panellists, Dr. Saleh Al Othman, Head of Gulf Cancer Awareness Campaign; Dr. Salam Slim, Senior consultant at WIDE Impact; Thafera Al Shawi - Liaison and Partnership Officer UNFPA; Professor Taha Al Lawati – Board member of Oman Cancer Association, talked about the direct, indirect and induced economic and societal benefits through investments in health and early detection.
At the end of the ceremony, the pink brigade set off on its journey towards the day’s first stop – Sharjah Broadcasting Authority. The ride trotted along the Mughaider Children Centre and Muwailih Commercial, before wrapping up its first day at the Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 Monument at 19:00, travelling 11.2 km.
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