Partnership renewal between Pfizer & UAE organisations to mark World Cancer Day


World Cancer Day is more than just a day on the calendar – and for Pfizer Gulf, delivering meaningful breakthroughs, empowering communities and closing the care gap are the critical driving forces behind its enduring commitment to patients in the UAE.

It is a day to raise hopes, inspire change and mobilise action long after the day itself – which is why the world’s premier biopharma company marked the occasion this year by renewing its vital partnerships with UAE-based cancer patient societies, Emirates Oncology Society (EOS) and Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP).

As part of the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed with FOCP and EOS, Pfizer will lend a hand to raise awareness, encourage early detection and support the treatment of cancer in the UAE, reinforcing its commitment to advancing oncology care in the country.

“Cancer is one of the greatest health challenges that we collectively face today, and our aim is to close the care gap for cancer patients in the UAE,” Lindsey Dietschi, Gulf Cluster Lead for Pfizer, told Reach by Gulf News in an interview.

Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

“In parallel with our breakthrough research and scientific innovation, these vital agreements help us amplify and support the efforts of our partners such as Friends of Cancer Patients and Emirates Oncology Society and ensure that we are doing everything we can to support cancer patients in the country.”

The renewal of the partnerships comes at a critical time in combating the disease: 10 million people globally died of cancer in 2020, accounting for around one in six deaths worldwide even during the pandemic. In the UAE, cancer is the third-leading cause of death, and according to Globocan 2020, breast cancer is the most common in the country, followed by thyroid and colon cancer.

“For any situation involving a cancer patient, every family always grapples with a heavy burden,” Dietschi said. “This includes the impact on the family, on relationships, on careers, and on mental health.

“Our strong partnerships with FOCP and EOS are Pfizer’s way of sharing this significant burden and supporting our patient community in the UAE,” she added.

The agreements, Dietschi explained, successfully enable three things: facilitate scientific exchange through partnership; improve decision-making by supporting early screenings; and accelerate the ability to provide local evidence and data for further research.

“We know how important screenings are to enable effective decisions regarding the course of treatment to be followed. It always helps when such diagnosis happens at the early stage, and the work together with our partners in raising awareness about regular screenings can make a vital difference.

Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

“That’s why we are very excited with this renewed collaboration – it complements very well our efforts at Pfizer Gulf to provide the best possible care for cancer, delivering breakthrough science to patients who need it the most.”

With cancer on the rise, regular screenings and early detection have become critical components of mitigating the impact, reducing mortality and lowering the cost of care. Worldwide, one in five people are projected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

“Our partnership with Pfizer is an important milestone for FOCP. With Pfizer’s wealth of information on oncology, FOCP can grow its efforts to combat cancer, particularly at the local level,” Dr Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of the Board of Directors at Friends of Cancer Patients, told Reach by Gulf News.

Dr Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of the Board of Directors at Friends of Cancer Patients, and Lindsey Dietschi, Gulf Cluster Lead for Pfizer, sign the agreementImage Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

“This collaboration with Pfizer is the latest in the extensive list of our eight-year partnership and will go a long way in solidifying our commitment to easing cancer burden in the region.”

FOCP, which has played a vital role in amplifying the voices of patients to motivate policymakers and health authorities shape effective strategies against cancer, will also continue to collaborate over research, Dr Jafar said. “Thanks to advanced new treatments, patients have every fighting chance of survival if the cancer is detected early. That’s why it is paramount that residents across the UAE know the risk factors and have access to vital screenings, which FOCP has been advocating and providing.”

Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, President of the Emirates Oncology Society, expects the rate of incidence of cancer to grow twice as fast by 2025 compared to the rest of the world.

“Many people are still not comfortable using the word cancer and try to avoid it… We certainly need to let people know that talking about cancer does not cause cancer. Instead, it is important to be aware of its early signs and symptoms. This is something that the partnership with Pfizer will help us deliver – we will be working closely to ensure that cancer screenings as well as prevention measures remain a top priority for patients and healthcare professionals,” Dr Al Shamsi said.

“We are the ones who are seeing cancer patients daily – so we understand the challenges and the ways in which we can improve them. Working together as one team is the best way we can try to find effective solutions to the challenges of cancer care in the UAE and beyond.” 

Dietschi added, “While we are proud of the significant progress we have made in treating cancer, our work is far from over. Our partnerships with FOCP and EOS reaffirm our commitment to fighting cancer collectively in the UAE and the Gulf, and we will use all our resources to bring more innovation in oncology and cancer breakthroughs to the region.”

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