Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Ameera Fund, a global cancer fund administered by the UAE-based non-profit, Friends Of Cancer Patients (FOCP), has advanced its humanitarian endeavour at home and abroad with the successful implementation of nine key projects geared towards reducing the burden of the disease on patients, healthcare systems, and civil society organisations.
Their international financial aid of over Dhs11.18 million was extended to thousands of beneficiaries – patients, researchers and medical professionals – in Jordan, Mauritania, Tanzania, Palestine (Gaza Strip), Ethiopia, Côte d'Ivoire and Pakistan, and included a partnership worth Dhs735,000 with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). The Fund also pledged Dhs1.4 million to support the treatment of cancer patients in the UAE.
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In Pakistan, the Ameera Fund contributed Dhs183,649 to ensure continued delivery of quality treatment to cancer patients at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC). With facilities in Lahore and Peshawar, and a new close to completion in Karachi, SKMCH&RC has been offering comprehensive, world-class cancer care for free to the neediest populations in country for over 25 years.
The Ameera Fund was launched by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Founder and Royal Patron of FOCP, to honour the contributions of the late humanitarian activist, Ameera Bin Karam, in supporting cancer patients in the UAE and abroad. The Ameera Fund targets cancer care on a global scale through collaborative projects in the fields of cancer research, capacity building, prevention, and treatment.
Amongst the nine projects, the first was implemented in Jordan in collaboration with The King Hussein Cancer Foundation. The Fund granted an amount of Dhs734,500 to the Foundation’s ‘Goodwill Fund’, which aims to support underprivileged patients of all nationalities by covering their full or partial treatment costs.
To support children with cancer in the Gaza Strip, Ameera Fund pledged Dhs300,000 with the support of Patient’s Friends Charitable House, towards provision of chemotherapy drugs. By avoiding referrals to clinics outside Gaza, children can now be supported by their families during the treatment process.
In Mauritania, the Fund granted Dhs85,000 to support the efforts of the ‘Association Mauritanienne de lutte contre le cancer’ in raising awareness on oral, cervical, head and neck cancers. The Fund also collaborated with the Gulf Federation for Cancer Control (GFFCC) and The Arab Medical Association Against Cancer (AMAAC) to send physicians from seven countries to Mauritania. Specialised training workshops were conducted, and meetings held between families and doctors to answer their questions about the disease. The courses and meetings benefited about 221,000 individuals.
In another project, the Ameera Fund established a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in a customised medical ward at the Paediatrics Department of Muhimbili National Hospital, the largest government hospital in Tanzania, at a cost of Dhs8,430,499 This project, implemented in collaboration with Tumaini La Maisha, an NGO that provides free and curative care for children with cancer in Tanzania, meets the needs of 1,300 cancer-stricken children annually.
In Ethiopia, the Fund helped provide basic treatments for children with acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL). It pledged Dhs600,000 to support research and other measures to overcome several challenges such as high costs, and the availability and quality of cancer treatments.
Moving on to the city of Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire, Ameera Fund organised radiotherapy training courses worth Dhs33,000 for medical professionals to deliver radiotherapy treatment to cancer patients.
Pact with IUCC
Meanwhile, FOCP also signed a partnership agreement with the International Union for Cancer Control (IUCC) with the aim of supporting cancer awareness campaigns and activities worldwide. Under the agreement, FOCP allocated approximately Dhs734,600 from Ameera Fund to support two major projects of IUCC, which are expected to be completed this year.
Every year, Ameera Fund allocates 40 per cent of its budget to help and support patients in the UAE, 30 per cent for patients outside the country, while the remaining 30 per cent is used to build the capacities of cancer organisations in the UAE and beyond.
Speaking about the recently concluded projects, Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of FOCP, said: "We are committed to closely collaborating with our partners and supporters to provide coordinated, comprehensive and effective treatments to cancer patients worldwide, and to raise public awareness about cancer at the local and global levels. As the second leading cause of death globally, cancer is a multifaceted global issue that cuts through society and demands prompt action to alleviate its impact.”
The King Hussein Cancer Center.
“Apart from providing the necessary treatment and emotional support to cancer patients, Ameera Fund also provides professional support to the healthcare professionals associated with cancer care. The fund reflects the vision of HH Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, in providing financial support to global health projects in general, and cancer control initiatives in particular through the Ameera Fund.” she added.
Dr. Khaled Al Saleh, General Secretary of the Board of the Gulf Federation for Cancer Control (GFFCC), said: “One of the most significant cancer awareness initiatives launched by GFFCC is themed ‘Awareness without Borders’. GFFCC’s biennial field visits are among its top humanitarian efforts at the regional and international levels. In the last six years, the Awareness without Borders team has visited three countries – Yemen in 2014, Sudan in 2016 and Mauritania in 2018.”
According to Steve Sosebee, CEO of The Palestine Children's Relief Fund, “The Ameera Fund project is enabling children living under siege in the Gaza Strip to have access to medication that previously was available only outside of Gaza. This meant leaving their families behind to go for treatment. The donation of chemotherapy drugs for sick children enables us to treat them in the new paediatric cancer department that we built in Gaza. It gives them great hope for a better future."
Jennifer Dent, President and CEO of BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), said: “Our team at BVGH is grateful to FOCP and Ameera Fund for their partnership and dedicated support of our work to improve cancer patient outcomes in Africa through our African Access Initiative (AAI) programme.
“With the Ameera Fund’s financial support, BVGH coordinated an impactful two-week fellowship programme to improve cancer diagnosis in Côte d'Ivoire. We are thankful to the Ameera Fund for supporting this important and life-changing fellowship programme.”
Ameera Fund is one of the humanitarian initiatives of FOCP and raises funds to boost cancer research and access to treatment through donation campaigns, volunteering activities and contributions from individuals and partners across the world.
Individuals and organisations in the UAE and beyond, who want to contribute to the cause can make donations through the main branch of Sharjah Islamic Bank. The account details are as follows: Account number 0011430430015, IBAN AE420410000011430430015 or call FOCP at +9716 5065542.
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.
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