Challenges posed by COVID-19 fail to dampen spirits of FOCP - GulfToday

Challenges posed by COVID-19 fail to dampen spirits of FOCP


The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Despite massive distractions as a consequence of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), digitalisation, yet more importantly, the drive, dedication and selflessness of individuals concerned with the cancer-stricken/survivors and programmes, have remained dependable.

This is according to the Aug. 2020 “pulse survey” of the Geneva-based Union International for Cancer Control (UICC). Sharjah’s Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) released to the media a copy of the survey on the occasion of the annual Feb. 4 “World Cancer Day” on Thursday. Non-government organisation UICC leads the celebration as its purpose is to continually globally spread awareness and empowerment against 100 cancer types through its network of 1,200 civil society cancer organisations (CSCOs) like the FoCP.

On Thursday and in collaboration with the UICC, the FoCP paid tribute to the country’s nurses, doctors, researchers, volunteers, advocates and other caregivers as well as government agencies into oncology, by sharing their extraordinary spirit and strength alongside their counterparts, around the world by way of the “Adaptations and innovation in cancer care through COVID-19 and beyond.”

 Their stories were uploaded in the UICC official website. These highlight that while the pandemic is threatening the progress being made in the fight against cancer, it has created the opportunity for several national health systems to address existing challenges.

Meanwhile, on the flip side of the survey “Cancer burden, finance, and healthcare systems,” it noted that everyone must remain unbending to cancer. The World Health Organisation-International Agency for Research on Cancer, had registered 19.3 million new cases, 10 million deaths, and a 40 per cent drop on consultations in 2020.

UICC-Membership and Partnerships Development director James M. Wells, author of the survey, over the in Jan. 2021, noted that many CSCOs were able to adapt to the COVID19 consequences, even investing in the health and wellness of their staff.

He also wrote: “Governments, civil society, and the public and private sectors are all joint stakeholders in reducing the impact of cancer globally. The survey provides UICC with important insights that will enable it to provide better support to its members and the global cancer community during and after the crisis (referring to the COVID-19 pandemic). However, it is crucial that governments show the commitment to CSCOs and patients with cancer by providing additional financial support to ensure that CSCOs have sufficient financial sustainability to provide services to at least pre-pandemic levels. There will be a time beyond COVID-19, but not beyond cancer.”

The Aug. 2020 survey respondents totalled 108 CSCOs (vis-a-vis 1,200) from 80 countries (vis-a-vis 172). Some of the findings: 83 reported reduced incomes; 86 had lessened activities and services; 33 expected less finances of up to 25 per cent, 27, up to 50 per cent, 16 up to 75 per cent, and four with none at all. Seventy-seven CSCOs had forecast income fall. For 2021, 68 CSCOs had projected less fundraisings, 52 less philanthropic giving, 32 weak cash flows, 24 no government funds, and 17 delayed/non-payment of service fees.

On FoCP, director-general Dr Sawsan Al Madhi said that throughout 2020 and focused on the Advocacy-Patient Access-Community Awareness pillars, the CSCO in February, pursued the “NCD (Non-Communicable Diseases) Alliance Forum attended by 400 delegates from 80 nations and the annual Pink Caravan Ride which delivered 11,077 breast cancer screenings and physician consultations to residents.

The rest of the year, 72 training and advocacy webinars were conducted, another collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund on the fight against cervical cancer with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, another UICC partnership with the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer with the availability of the third edition of the “Arabic Language Cancer Atlas,” and the conduct of training for cancer registrars for cancer data collection within the UAE and abroad by way of the Ameera Fund.

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