Press Release

Health promotion, awareness, early detection, and adequate treatment: ingredients for lowering the burden of Cancers and saving lives

07 February 2023

Iraq, 7 February 2023 – Iraq celebrated the World Cancer Day and renewed its commitment to bridging the gap in cancer awareness, prevention, and early detection and treatment to save lives and lower the suffering from cancers across the country.

Cancers represent the second cause of death in Iraq, the Region, and the world. They have severely impacted the Iraqi society at large and the vulnerable communities in particular, especially in areas where access to equitable and sufficient health care services remains limited amid increasing social and economic risk factors. 

Reflecting on the national roles and lead needs to advance cancer treatment, the World Health Organization (WHO) attended a celebration organized in Duhok by the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The Ministry and WHO renewed commitment to effective cooperation in the fight against cancer and projected mapping urgent responses to critical issues like raising awareness, early detection, registry, and affordability of adequate treatment for different types of cancer. 

WHO and the Ministry of Health of the Kurdistan region further agreed to capitalize on awareness raising and educating women on self-examination of breast cancer in addition to studying joint prospects for boosting cancer management projects that could provide the population, including the vulnerable groups of the refugees and internally displaced populations, with equal opportunities to get the earliest diagnosis and treatment possible.  

Barween, a 35-year-old wife and mother of 3 children from a village in the northern Erbil governorate of the Kurdistan region, has recently lost a sister after a long fight with breast cancer. Barween’s sister Naveed aged 32 lost the battle due to late diagnosis, rudimentary access to treatment, and metastases to other organs. Barween’s realization of the severity of the consequences of the disease led her to reach out to the Cancer Hospital in Erbil to learn about self-examination and enquire about early detection programmes to help herself and her other 34-years-old sister. She wished it would be simple and effortless for all women in her community to seek early diagnoses and benefit from the best possible care. 

”We are working with the Government to change cancers from being serial killers to diseases that can be prevented effectively, diagnosed early, and treated adequately,” said Dr Ahmed Zouiten WHO Representative and Head of Mission in Iraq. “Our commitment towards the national health authorities and the civil society institutions working in this area can create and coordinate a conducive environment for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Let us promote the Day and appeal to our partners and donors to join the call for action to bridge the gap on cancer awareness, detection, and treatment for higher impact in our communities,” Dr Zouiten added. 

Ajyal Sultany

Ajyal Sultany

Communications Officer

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