Cancer centre to open in UAE

A research centre dedicated to fighting one of the biggest killers in the region is to be opened in the UAE.

A patient on an MRI Machine.
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ABU DHABI // A research centre dedicated to fighting one of the biggest killers in the region is to be opened in the UAE, says the Ministry of Health. The plan was outlined to health professionals at a GCC meeting last month by Dr Mona al Kawari from the ministry, but was revealed publicly only yesterday. The health officials had come together from across the region to discuss the effects of cancer in their countries and the directives being undertaken to combat the disease.

The centre will collect information across the country in an attempt to find ways to combat the disease, and will focus on prevention as well as treatment. "We are in the process of setting up a unified cancer centre," said Dr Mona al Kawari from the MoH. "We will announce the final decision in October." The centre would be under the supervision of the health authorities of the different emirates, she added.

Between 1998 and 2002, 41,475 GCC nationals were diagnosed with cancer, according to GCC statistics. Cancer rates are on the rise in the UAE and in many cases late diagnosis and treatment lead to medical complications and death. Breast cancer is one of the biggest killers of women in the UAE and is often diagnosed during later stages of the disease. Dr Adel Anis Hajj, the head of oncology at Cedars Jebel Ali International Hospital said: "The idea is fantastic," he said.

"It is not only important for the UAE, but it is important for every country. Cancer is a burden and our knowledge of treatment is developing." Combining information and expertise would have positive effects on the study of the disease, he said. "The UAE, as well as any other country, especially in this part of the world, is in need of serious research projects, activities and better acknowledgement of what is going on in our country."

He said researchers needed to find out what were the most common cancers, what the risk factors related to those cancers were and how awareness campaigns could be adapted to make more people aware of them. The most common cancers, he said, were breast cancer and prostate cancer, and colorectal and skin cancers. The cancer centre is likely to fall under the new National Health Council, announced last week to unify public and private health policies. Part of its mandate is to establish centres of excellence that focus on research and education.

* The National