Pink Caravan aims to travel over 1,200 km across the UAE at the end of its fifth year.
The Pink Caravan – a pan-UAE breast cancer awareness initiative by the Friends of Cancer Patients charity (FoCP) – held a press conference at the American University of Sharjah on Wednesday February 25th, unveiling the details of the 5th annual Pink Caravan Ride, to promote community awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and dispelling wrong misconceptions related to the disease. This year’s ride – which will take place from March 16th-25th – coincides with the 5th anniversary of the Pink Caravan, a campaign that has greatly managed to bring about a shift in society’s perceptions of breast cancer and the way they deal with it.
The press conference was attended by Ameera BinKaram, President of the Board of Trustees, founding member of FoCP and Chairperson of the Higher Steering Committee of the Pink Caravan Ride, Dr. Khalid Al Midfa, Director General of Sharjah Media Corporation, Sawsan Jaffar , Member of the FoCP Board of Trustees, Muhammad Al Musharekh, FoCP Board member, Abdul Nasser Al Midfa, Head of Retail Credit Services at Sharjah Islamic Bank, heads of the 2015 PC Ride committees, a number of FoCP members, and media representatives.
Ameera BinKaram articulated that the Pink Caravan has managed to spread considerable awareness about the significance of early detection and self-examination of breast cancer, and succeeded in dispelling myths surrounding the disease, thanks to the generous patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. BinKaram further stated that the PC achievements would not have been possible without the support and follow-up by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients Society.
Ameera added that Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher, who is also the International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) as well as International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC, has provided every possible means of support to cancer patients – particularly those with breast cancer – out of her strong faith in the need to ensure and preserve human health and safety. She said: “We look forward this year to engage non-government health- and social organizations in our efforts to work together, addressing the issue of breast cancer by encouraging more women and men in the UAE to undergo early detection examinations regularly, in addition to providing the necessary medical and psychological care for patients with breast cancer. We need to uphold a united message for spreading awareness about cancer through traditional means such as lectures, educational programmes, events, media, and social networking sites, as well as by providing mammogram screenings, the establishment of a UAE National Cancer Registry, improvement of examination standards at government and private medical institutions, and reducing cancer incidence and its negative impacts on the UAE society.”
BinKaram also pointed out that the Pink Caravan has succeeded over the past year in offering early detection breast cancer screenings to nearly 29,000 women and men of nationalities and ages from all over the UAE. “The Pink Caravan provides intensive support and treatment for 30 patients with breast cancer annually, at a total cost of AED7.5 million. It was able to expand the FoCP voluntary team to include more than 300 persons, institutions and companies at present, alongside doctors, nurses, students and families of cancer patients from various nationalities, who took it upon themselves to help and support cancer patients.”
She added: “As we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Pink Caravan, we decided that the Pink Caravan Ride 2015 will flag off this year under the theme #Pink Thank You – in an expression of our deepest gratitude and appreciation towards everyone who contributed over the past years in achieving part of the Pink Caravan’s objectives. This theme will be promoted in all PC publications and advertisements, and also on social networking sites. Hence, we hope that all community members will participate in and interact in some manner with our annual horseback ride, promising a pleasant surprise represented in a ground-breaking project marking a new and important phase in the history of the Pink Caravan and breast cancer in the UAE. The new landmark initiative will empower us to be actively present in the different cities and parts of the country throughout the year.”
The details of this project will be revealed on March 26th, the final day of the 2015 Ride, in the capital Abu Dhabi, BinKaram has announced. Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Director General of Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC), media partner of the Pink Caravan, expressed his delight at the participation of SMC and all its channels in supporting this noble humanitarian initiative. He stressed that the corporation has always been eager, since the PC inception in 2011, to stand by the Pink Caravan and help convey its message and achieve its goals, inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, supporting a healthy life in the UAE.
Liz de Jong, Project Manager at FoCP, talked about the four basic pillars of the 2015 Pink Caravan Ride, consisting of the riders, mobile clinics, events and ambassadors. She noted that the Ride will exceed 1,200 km done across the country over the past five years, to convey the message of awareness about breast cancer. She lauded the role of partners and volunteers in supporting the annual horseback trek, and stressed that the positive results brought about by the Pink Caravan in the UAE society is a natural result of the admirable support of leaders, institutions and the community society in the UAE.
Jong underlined that the annual Pink Caravan Ride has captured the attention of all community sectors, including dignitaries, school- and university students, celebrities, famous musicians and movie stars. She added that awareness of breast cancer and the need for early detection and regular screenings must not stop, because it is a national, community and humanitarian responsibility, and thus all institutions or individuals should involve in sharing this responsibility.
With respect to the ride, Badr Al Juaidi, Head of the Pink Caravan’s Logistic Services, gave a comprehensive presentation detailing the horseback ride, its routes, stops, and activities. The 10-day Ride will kick off at 12:45pm, Monday, March 16th, from the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, and then stops at Al Dhaid Hospital, at 6:30pm, after traveling 31,9 km.
On the second day, March 17th, the riders will move from Al Dhaid Hospital at 10am, and travel 29,8 km to reach their stop at Masafi Hospital at 5:30pm. On day 3, March 18th, the horseback expedition will flag off from City Centre Fujairah at 10am, heading to Khorfakkan where it will arrive at Oceanic Khorfakkan Resort at 6pm, after travelling 40, 5 km. On March 19th, day 4, the riders will move from the Ras Al Khaima Women’s Higher Colleges of Technology at 10am and will stop at the Cove Rotana Resort at 5:30pm, making 30,1 km. On Friday, March 20th, the ride will start at Umm Al Quwain Hospital at 10am and arrive at Kempinski Hotel Ajman at 6:30pm, after traveling 33,9 km.
On Saturday, March 21st, the ride will flag off from Kempinski Hotel Ajman at 10am and then stop at Al Qasba in Sharjah at 5:30pm, travelling 32, 9 km. The ride will continue making its way on Sunday, March 22nd, when it will move from Rixos the Palm Dubai at 10am, traveling 40km to arrive at Meydan Hotel in Dubai at 4pm.. On day 8, Monday, March 23rd, the ride will kick off from Dubai Downtown-Burj Khalifa at 10am, and will arrive at Burj Al Arab in Dubai at 4:15pm, after travelling 24km. On its ninth day, March 24th, the Pink Caravan Ride will flag off at 10am from Corniche Park in Abu Dhabi, and will stop at Zayed Military Hospital, traveling 30, 5 km. And on the 10th and final day, March 25th, the PC Ride will begin its trip from the Zayed Mosque at 10am and will arrive in Galleria at 5:30pm, after traveling 21, 3 km.
Speaking about the mobile clinics, Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, Secretary General of FoCP and Head of the Pink Caravan’s Medical Committee, said: “Mobile clinics will work throughout the 10-day ride, from 7am-9pm, in selective locations in each emirate.” On the first day, Monday, March 16th, mobile clinics will be set up at Al Qasimi Hospital, Charity Society Association in Sharjah and Al Dhaid Hospital, while they will be available at Kalba Hospital, Dibba Al Fujairah Hospital and Masafi Hospital, on March 17th. The mobile clinics will be available in Al Thamid Clinics in Sharjah, Fujairah Hospital and Khorfakkan Hospital on Wednesday, the third day of the ride.
On Thursday, March 19th, mobile clinics will be stationed in Ras Al Khaimah, specifically in Saq Hospital, Saqr bin Ghobash Hospital, and Cham Hospital, while they will be available in the University Hospital Sharjah and International Park in Ajman, on March 20th.
On Saturday, March 21, mobile clinics will be available in Charity Association in Sharjah, Ousha bint Hussian Cultural Centre in Dubai, and Nad Al Hamar Healthcare Centre in Dubai, while they will be available in Falaj Al Mualla Healthcare Centre in Umm Al Quwain, Dibba AL Hosn Healthcare Centre and the Umm Al Momineen Women’s Association in Ajman.
Mobile clinics will also be available in Shaikh Khalifa Hospital, Mezer Healthcare Centre, Al Manama Healthcare Centre in Ajman, on Monday, March 23rd, in Ajman, while they will be available in the Emirates Identity Authority in Ajman and Dubai Customs and the Reformative and Punitive Establishments in Dubai on March 24. On the last day of the ride, March 25th, mobile clinics will be available in Abu Dhabi Police Clinics, Abu Dhabi Emiratisation Council and Al Ain University for Science and Technology.
Regarding events and activities held alongside the Pink Caravan Ride, an opening ceremony will take place at the Sharjah Equestrian Club on March 16, and the event programme will conclude with the closing ceremony of the Pink Caravan Ride which will take place on Wednesday, March 25, in Abu Dhabi.
Highlighting the role of physicians and nurses in the Pink Caravan Ride, Dr Sawsan Al Madhi said the Pink Caravan is eagerly anticipating the annual participation of Emirati doctors and nurses on its annual ride to increase their experience in dealing with various cases and diagnosing symptoms with high efficiency, which would help increase cancer survival rates, while boosting the capabilities of the UAE medical sector. She pointed out that the cost of one medical screening for the early detection of breast cancer ranges between AED 500-1000. But the Pink Caravan offers free examinations and screenings for citizens and residents across the UAE.
Al Madhi added: “In addition to the free screening service, we will assign a medical team for each mobile clinic, thus saving 15-20 minutes for each patient, in order to ensure the quality of medical care services, and providing direct information and awareness on how to perform self-examination, and answering questions about breast cancer and how to detect it and deal with it.”
According to breast cancer data, breast cancer is the most common types of cancer affecting women worldwide, accounting for 16% of all cancer types that affect women. About 1.1 million women across the world are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, 410,000 of which die of cancer. “If found at the early stage, 98 percent of women will be completely cured,” Al Madhi emphasized.
Since its inception in 2011, the Pink Caravan has sought raising awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer, and of highlighting the impact of the disease throughout the UAE. The PC efforts have greatly contributed to dispelling misconceptions related to breast cancer, and provided indispensable financial and emotional support to patients and their families.
The Pink Caravan has played a significant role in reducing breast cancer’s incidence in the region, and diminishing its progress to advanced stages through free screenings that help protect the lives of citizens and residents. The initiative has received tremendous interest from local and international organisations involved in the fight against cancer and spreading awareness about its dangers.