Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represent a real dilemma for countries across the world and a big challenge to the various world health sectors as the number of people with NCDs has increased considerably during the past decades. NCDs have recently become an emerging pandemic globally with disproportionately higher rates in developing countries.
The spread of these diseases is attributed to many factors, perhaps most notably is unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity, especially in urban communities, in addition to genetic factors, polluted and unclean environment.
According to the US NCDS Prevention and Control Centres, non-communicable diseases are a group of chronic diseases that are not transmitted from one person to another, and are usually are developed through a prolonged period within a relatively slow process. NCDs include seven main groups: Cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, kidney diseases, multiple sclerosis, liver diseases and diabetes.
Non-communicable diseases are chronic, requiring lifelong treatment and the provision of continuous care, adding burden on government budgets allocated for the health sector. Addressing such types of diseases needs collaborative international efforts and strengthening support for study centres and research institutes to identify causes and determine the best ways to eliminate them.
Over the past years, the UAE was among the first countries in the world to support efforts aiming to fight NCDs and donated hundreds of millions of to funding the setting up of research centres and institutes to address diseases like cancer and polio. The UAE launched several initiatives aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles and physical activity to combat obesity, diabetes, blood pressure and related diseases.
Within the UAE’s great contributions to combating NCDs are the immense efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), and International Ambassador for the World Cancer Declaration of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and UICC International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer. Her Highness launched several pilot initiatives and campaigns aimed at fighting and eliminating NCDs, with a focus on cancer, and made generous donations to facilitate cancer treatment.
Her Highness initiatives included, but were not limited to, providing direct financial support for patients and bearing the cost of their treatment, providing medical equipment and supporting medical centres and research institutes to enable them secure effective therapies for NCDs. This, in addition to hosting experts and organising international conference and forums, and other landmark initiatives.
Sheikha Jawaher’s efforts in the fight against NCDs, foremost of which is cancer, are marked by a range of activities and visits she has carried out in support of children with cancer across the world. In 2013, Sheikha Jawaher visited the Children’s Cancer Centre of Lebanon, an affiliate of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the USA, where she met with patients and presented a library of children’s books to the hospital.
In addition, Sheikha Jawaher works through FoCP, which she established in Sharjah in 1999 to connect UICC’s Childhood Cancer programme with initiatives to improve health, education and living conditions of Palestinian children under the supervision of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF).
In April 2014, she participated in the 11th African Conference of International Society for Pediatric Oncology, which was held in Dar-es Salaam, Tanzania, in collaboration with UICC and International Society for Pediatric Oncology. During her participation, Sheikha Jawaher called for developing international strategies as an integral part of the overall programmes to control cancer and non-communicable diseases in various countries across the world, with a special focus on the low and middle-income countries.
In the same year in September, Sheikha Jawaher visited Presbyterian Cancer Hospital in New York where she launched the international initiative the ‘Heroes Bag’. This initiative presents children with cancer with special bags containing books, toys, and other gifts that aim to bring happiness and joy and help alleviate their suffering.
Sheikha Jawaher also participates in most events and activities launched by the UICC throughout the year. As a WCD International Ambassador for Pediatric Cancer, in 2013,
PACS System at CCHE 57357
In June 2016, the Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt (CCHE 57357) in Cairo, the largest pediatric cancer hospital in the Arab region, which offers free medical treatment for children with cancer, activated the picture and communication archiving system (PACS), which is used to store and displaying medical records.
In May 2015, the hospital opened a new wing named after Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi in recognition of her generosity in providing financial support for the treatment of children with cancer. A banner displayed at the wing bearing her name, has her saying to children with cancer: “You are the hero of your story, and you will always be in my heart.”
Later that year, Sheikha Jawaher donated EGP 10 million to the Children’s Cancer Hospital 57357 that enabled its administration to introduce the PACS system, which helped 45,728 children to benefit from its services within the first 40 days of its application.
Supporting research centres
Just two months after the activation of the PACS system at 57357 Hospital, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi called for greater investment in NCD-related media research and studies by providing financial support for research and scientific institutions and training human resources to enable them to move into a new phase of the treatment and control of NCDs. The call was made by Sheikha Jawaher during his visit to London.
Sheikha Jawaher stressed that non-communicable diseases, most notably cancer of its various types, represent a major challenge to both communities and governments around the world, making it imperative to fund research carried out by scientific and research institutions and centres for the prevention and control of these diseases.
Sharjah Laboratory in London
Sheikha Jawaher’s commitment to fighting NCDs on a global level resulted in the opening of the Sharjah Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in London – Europe’s largest biomedical research, in April 2017.
His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, inaugurated the Sharjah Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute, one of the most important of its kind in the world.
The Sharjah Laboratory has been set up to contribute to cancer research in general, and specifically lung cancer, to come up with effective treatment for this disease. Her half million pound donation to the Cancer Research UK fully funds the facility, supports its works and trains human resources in order for them to move into a new era in NCDs treatment and prevention.
On the sidelines of the opening of the laboratory, Sheikha Jawaher underlined the importance of promoting a culture of early detection and follow-up. She emphasised that investment in research and treatment of diseases not only benefits the present generation, it is also an investment in the health of several generations to come. She said that a healthy society is the cornerstone of any civilisation and the progress of any nation, explaining the race by nations to support scientific research and discovery of new medicines and therapies.
Sheikha Jawaher underlined the importance of facing NCDs requires an effective and dynamic movement on several levels, including meetings, events and conferences related to research that discuss ways to limit the prevalence of these diseases.
Referring to Sharjah’s continuing contribution to the fight against NCDs, Sheikha Jawaher said that Sharjah’s efforts to combat NCDs set a leading example to be emulated by other countries in the world. The emirate launched the ‘Sharjah Declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases towards 2030’, which was endorsed by 230 international experts. The emirate’s next big step in the field is the Second Global Non-Communicable Disease Alliance Forum, which is scheduled to take place from 9 to 11, December 2017.
In November 2015, Sheikha Jawaher launched the ‘Sharjah Declaration’ on NCDs during the first Global Non-Communicable Disease Alliance Forum, and included the most important recommendations that came out of the forum, which will be applied to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Sharjah Declaration on NCDs calls on governments to champion NCD prevention to curtail lifestyle diseases that are responsible for 63 percent of all deaths globally.
During the closing session of the 2015 Global NCD Forum, Sheikha Jawaher said that her efforts towards combating non-communicable diseases around the world is an obligation; a humanitarian duty to help medical and scientific experts make a clear difference in the implications of NCDs on the peoples of the world, specifically in low- and middle-income countries.
Her unwavering efforts and commitment to the fight against NCDS have led to organising the Second Global Non-Communicable Disease Alliance Forum, which is scheduled to take place in Sharjah from 9-11, December 2017, to examine the progress being made on tackling NCDS and discusses effective strategies to prevent the lifestyle ailments that kill 40 million people each year.
The first Global Non-Communicable Disease Alliance Forum was held in November 2015 under the patronage of Sheikha Jawaher. It was organised by FoCP in collaboration with NCD Alliance one after naming Sheikha Jawaher as the Honorary Patron of the Global Non-Communicable Disease Alliance Forum in recognition of her immense efforts in combating NCDS on local, regional and global levels.
The forum, which brings together leading international NCD organisations and a large group of experts and specialists to garner more attention and mobilise resources to support global efforts to combat non-communicable diseases, particularly in low and middle – income countries, and include these diseases on the global agenda.
4,000 cancer patients receive financial and moral support
Under the directives of Sheikha Jawaher, FoCP has provided financial and moral support to more than 4,000 cancer patients of all ages and nationalities across the UAE this far. Through the Pink Caravan initiative launched by FoCP in 2010, the organisation has contributed to promoting awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and erasing misconceptions surrounding the disease.
During its 7th Pink Caravan Ride in March 2017, FoCP managed to offer free medical examinations and screenings to 48,800 men and women of different nationalities and age groups in the UAE.
FoCP is a charity non-profit organisation, which relies on generous contributions from businesses and civil society in the form of financial aid and moral support. To know how you can be part of this noble movement