For immediate release
Sharjah, 06 March 2017
The success of a society may be measured in terms of the values of the people it represents. The population should interactive and respectful of their environment and they should always aim to improve relations within their own communities as well as others. Over the past four decades, the UAE has been responsible for encouraging its people to give back to society and ensure others less fortunate are given the help, support and strength needed to increase their quality of life; voluntary work has become a mainstay of the UAE’s philosophy and a pillar of its morals.
In 2011, the now famous Pink Caravan was launched by Friends of Cancer Patients to raise awareness of breast cancer and emphasise the importance of its early detection. Over the past six years, more than 200,000 volunteer hours have been dedicated to the cause – that is the equivalent of every hour of every day for 23 solid years. It is an incredible achievement and one which shows the nation’s true spirit of caring.
Speaking about its beginnings, Reem BinKaram, Chairperson of the Higher Organising Committee of the Pink Caravan, said: "From its first year, the Pink Caravan made a significant difference to people’s attitude towards breast cancer and made information more accessible to more people. The initiative is totally reliant on donations and volunteer work and to have made such an impact on so many people is a great testament to the teams involved."
Before starting the first of its many nationwide journeys, the Pink Caravan conducted comprehensive surveys and research about breast cancer risk factors, prevention, treatment, detection, ways to refer and much more.
“We also examined the target geographical range to identify those areas which would need the greatest encouragement and incentives to visit the Pink Caravan facilities and make the most of the free screenings,” Binkaram added.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. It accounts for 16% of all female cancers. More than 1.1 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually across the world, resulting in 410,000 deaths. Despite these alarming figures, research shows that if the disease is detected early, 98% of women with breast cancer will survive.
“The Pink Caravan began with the highly important task of separating fact from fiction and breaking down the barriers of fear. Promoting awareness is a national community and humanitarian responsibility that should be shared by institutions and individuals, while laying emphasis on the importance of early detection as the cornerstone of the fight against it,” BinKaram said.
She referred to the great support for the Pink Caravan from the nation’s leaders and the impressive response by public and private sectors and from all community segments.
Every year, the Pink Caravan introduces new activities and programmes to expand its geographical reach. With over 400 riders, the Pink Caravan Ride has travelled 1,440km across the seven emirates in its six year history and its medical teams visited 87 schools where they conducted educational workshops and delivered lectures about the importance of early detection of breast cancer.
Pink Caravan's milestones in six years
The Pink Caravan was launched under the generous patronage of His Highness Dr. sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who gave this initiative special attention. His Highness Sheikh Sultan provided all the support and facilities for the Pink Caravan Organising Committee – a move that has contributed significantly to the milestone achievements made during the last six years.
The Pink Caravan also enjoys an immense support from Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Founder and Patron of FoCP, International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC. She is also the Royal Patron of the Global NCD Alliance Forum.
In its first year, the Pink Caravan offered free screenings to 10,000 people, including 6,079 women, and 3,945 men. A total of 3,500 people were referred for mammograms, 600 of which responded, while 390 were referred for ultrasound. Eight women were diagnosed with cancer .
In 2012, the Pink Caravan offered free examinations to 6,750 people, including 6,275 women and 475 men. Of these, 2,150 cased were referred for mammograms, out of which 600 responded, while 325 cases were referred for ultrasound, with 85 responding . Five women were diagnosed with cancer . Also in the same year, a number of government and private organisations contacted the Pink Caravan and requested to have its employees screened.
In June 2012, Pink Caravan and University Hospital Sharjah signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Institute Gustave-Roussy, a leading European oncology centre, to establish the first comprehensive breast cancer centre in University Hospital Sharjah.
In 2013, the Pink Caravan provided examinations to 6,100 people, including 5,000 women and 1,100 men, while 1,100 cases were referred for mammography, 500 of which responded, and 325 cases were referred for ultrasound scans. Three women and one man were diagnosed with breast cancer.
In 2014, the Pink Caravan provided free screenings to 6,070 people, including 5,070 women and 1,000 men . A total of 1,500 cases were referred for mammography, out of which 380 people responded, and 290 cases were referred for ultrasound scans. Further medical tests proved that five women were diagnosed with breast cancer .
In 2015, the Pink Caravan offered free examinations to 7,390 people, including 6,040 women and 1,340 men. Of these, 1,720 cases were referred for mammogram screenings, 290 of whom responded. Some 175 cases were referred for ultrasound scans, and six women were diagnosed with cancer.
During the 2015 ride, the Pink Caravan announced the first state-of-the-art mobile mammography unit in the UAE. It costs AED 15 million and Sharjah Media Corporation donated AED 13 million.
In 2016, the medical clinics offered free breast cancer screenings to 5,020 people, including 650 men and 4,370 women, divided into 1,120 Emiratis and 3,900 expatriates. Mammogram screenings were conducted for 300 people, while 1,650 people were referred for mammogram screenings and 435 people were referred for ultrasound scans.
The mobile clinic is prepared and equipped with the latest technology needed to conduct medical tests for the early detection of breast cancer, as well as other related medical examinations . The clinic will offer its services to the nation’s more remote and least populated areas.
The mammography medical unit is able to receive six visitors per hour, 48 a day, 240 visitors in one week and 1,056 visitors per month. This means that the clinic has the capacity to receive, 12,480 visitors annually. The mobile mammography unit is the first of its kind in the UAE and constitutes a qualitative leap in the Pink Caravan's portfolio of achievements in its journey for the prevention of breast cancer in the community .
The Breast Centre, a subsidiary of the University Hospital Sharjah, offers advanced breast cancer treatment and surgical solutions as it is the only center-based programme for breast cancer treatment in the UAE
The 2016 Ride also witnessed the inauguration of a stationed clinic at Al Majaz waterfront in Sharjah, and the establishing of a strategic partnership with the Princess Grace Hospital in the United Kingdom, one of the best equipped multidisciplinary hospitals in London.
Overall results in six years
To date, the Pink Caravan has provided free medical checkups and screenings for early detection of breast cancer to 41,400 people across the country's seven emirates. Of these, there are 15,050 Emiratis and 26, 330 residents. The total number of examined people includes 32,860 women, and 8,520 men. Some 33 people were diagnosed with breast cancer, including 32 women and one man.
The seventh Pink Caravan Ride 2017
Running from 7th – 17 March, the seventh Pink Caravan Ride will set off under the theme '7 Years… for 7 Emirates'.
This year's ride will see the inauguration of seven permanent clinics in the seven emirates where medical teams will receive people who want to undergo screenings, and take up visitor queries. These clinics will be stationed at Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah, Dubai City Walk, Abu Dhabi Corniche, Ajman Corniche, Al Hamra Mall in Ras Al Khaimah, Al Khazzan Healthcare Clinic in Umm Al Quwain, and Al Khazan Health Center in Fujairah.