'Tsunami' of Cancer Cases Expected in Gulf

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Fraser Clarke

The Middle East needs a more sustainable strategy for Cancer support, with a possible ‘tsunami of cases’ on the horizon experts have warned.

Speaking at the ‘War on Cancer Middle East’ conference in Dubai, healthcare leaders, policymakers and researchers focused on rising rates in the Gulf region, and how these can be strategically dealt with across public and private sectors whilst utilising both preventative and longer term care techniques.

Cancer rates have grown staggeringly over the past decade in the Gulf - with rates in the UAE rising by 62%, and those in Saudi Arabia increasing by 49%. These figures may not be as daunting as they initially seem however, with greater awareness of screening and diagnosis at an early stage becoming widespread during this period.

The Middle East’s issues with lifestyle related health conditions have again been highlighted as a reason why Cancer is likely to become a huge problem, with around a third of Cancer related deaths linked to lifestyle factors.

Dubai is the location that looks set to face the biggest challenges, as Dr Younus Mohammad Ameen Kazem, Dubai Healthcare Corporation CEO, explained: “Dubai is emerging as a population hub within the UAE, with 29% of the country’s population now living there. This share is expected to increase in future due to economic growth, and greater insurance penetration. 

“The emirate is witnessing a growing burden of morbidity and mortality related to oncology. Oncology care in Dubai is available, but currently fragmented. We are working to enhance current cancer care to offer a world class internationally recognised service to Emiratis, expatriates and foreign health care tourists.”

In line with United Nations development goals, the Emirates is aiming to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 30% by 2030, with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Madhu Sasidhar, keen to implement a new approach.

He said: “We generally take a top down approach to cancer prevention, but it should begin in schools with education for children on how they can protect themselves from cancer with certain lifestyle choices.

“Obesity, lack of exercise and smoking increase the risk of cancer, and children need to be aware of that.”

Could you help the Middle East as it battles growing Cancer rates? We’ve got positions on offer in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman on our website - simply visit the jobs section to find out more.