Women in Gaza City are dying of breast cancer when their deaths are completely preventable, or are living with the scars and debilitating impact of medical techniques that should no longer be practiced. We want to end this suffering.
The Gaza Strip is home to 1.8 million people, 1.2 million of which are registered refugees. Three major conflicts in five years have led to a devastated infrastructure, 90% of water is unsafe to drink and long power cuts. Breast cancer kills more women than any other form of cancer in Gaza and five-year survival rates are less than half of those in the UK. Many women to present themselves very late for treatment, with 60% of cases getting detected in the third stage of the disease.
Al Ahli Hospital wants to educate 10,000 women a year about breast cancer through their community-based awareness raising programme. They aim to provide annual screening to 1,000 women over forty who present themselves as exhibiting potential symptoms. The hospital believes that the key first step is to raise awareness and break the taboos around seeking treatment and being examined by a male doctor. They want to give women the best opportunity for treatment and a full life post-treatment.
By raising awareness and explaining to women the need for early identification and diagnosis of breast cancer, they will have the best chance of successful treatment and survival. "Screening is so simple and so effective - if we can work with women so that they can identify breast cancer early, we can treat it. We need to make screening normal for women and change traditional attitudes. At the moment too many women die." Suhaila Tarazi, Director of Al Ahli hospital