Pakistan Professionals Forum Qatar (PPFQ) recently organised its fourth annual cancer awareness Sohour at City Centre Rotana Hotel. The event was attended by large number of Pakistani expatriates.
PPFQ partnered with Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) and Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre (SKMCH) to create awareness about cancer.
The prominent guests at the gathering, included Maya Ali, a Pakistani film and TV star and SKMCH’s breast cancer awareness ambassador; Dr Hadi Abu Rasheed from QCS; and Dr Muhammed Aasim Yusuf, Chief Medical Officer of SKMCH, along with key representatives of different community groups. This year the organisers also invited young students from Pakistan International School Qatar to give them an insight about different kind of cancers.
The PPWQ, a voluntary group of Pakistani professionals, brought the community together to celebrate the achievements of SKMCH and share different patient testimonies. Two different documentary films highlighted the works SKMCH has been doing for the last many years.
Speaking on the occasion, Mohsin Mujtaba, Chairman of PPFQ said, “PPFQ is a group of people who are hopelessly in love with Pakistan and hopelessly in love with the hope for a better future of Pakistan. Shaukat Khanum is hope for many and this hope shall prevail.”
Appreciating the support that they get from the Embassy of Pakistan, Mohsin added, “We have been trying to spread awareness about cancer and the treatment provided at SKMCH in Qatar. This is our fourth year. I am thankful to the embassy for their continuous support and co-operation.”
Dr Hadi from QCS said, “It is a great honour to be here for the fourth consecutive year. We have been involved with PPFQ and SKMCH for raising awareness about cancer.”
“QCS has been working since 1997. We have been working in four areas. We work for cancer education and community awareness. We empower, support and educate people suffering from cancer, their families and friends. We also continue to organise medical education conferences for free.”
He added, “We have been very happy to work with different expatriate communities in Qatar. The number of our beneficiaries continues to increase. In 2018, we reached almost 30,000 people. We would not have been able to do that without the support of the people. You people give us a chance to be involved with your community. If you do not invite us, we cannot have the discussion. We cannot have the awareness sessions. Every month we have different awareness campaigns with focus on different cancers. This month we have World No Tobacco Day. We have been focusing on all kinds of tobacco.”
He added, “In Qatar, we supplement what the government does not pay for, cancer treatment for expatriates. We supplement the gaps through the support we get from different communities. By 2018, we covered 1,000 patients with more than QR10 million. I know that the Pakistani community is deeply involved in dealing with cancer here in Qatar. I always urge on prevention and screening for different cancers. We have our doors open for all cancer patients.”
Providing the summary of SKMCH has been doing so far, Dr Asim said, “We completed 25th year of our operations this year. We opened our second hospital in Peshawar in 2015. Last month, we started construction work at the third SKMCH in Karachi. It will be functional in about three years. We also have diagnostic treatment centres in Lahore and Karachi. We also have walking clinics at Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Peshawar. We have over 200 laboratories as our collection centres. We treat about 80% patients completely free, thanks to the donations and Zakat. Approximately 20 percent patients pay for their treatments. Roughly 40 percent of total money is generated by the hospital itself and about 59 percent comes through Zakat and other funds. Zakat is principally collected during month of Ramadan.
“So far we have spent over $420 million since we started, in providing free cancer treatment. In the females, the commonest cancers are of breast, oral cavities, and esophagus. Among the male, the commonest cancers are of lungs, oral cavities, and prostate cancer. Among the children the commonest are Leukaemia and Lymphoma.
“Currently we have the largest radiation facility in Pakistan. We started this facility in Peshawar in March this year. Last year, we registered over 10,000 patients. We examined about 250,000 patients. We carried out about 16,000 surgical procedures. We had 65,000 radiation treatment sessions. We also have over 50,000 chemotherapy sessions. We also carry out awareness campaigns. We also have commitment to research and study in cancer treatment.”
Dr Asim added, “We follow the policy of equality both for those who pay and those who cannot. Last year we started a separate children emergency room. We have also installed an MRI scanner for free tests. We have also 3D digital mammography machine at our hospital. Our hospital in Lahore is currently working on its peak capacity. There is no room for its expansion. This year we’ll have construction work started for our new clinical building in Lahore. It will make the hospital’s capacity double. The phase-II of our Peshawar hospital has been completed. The phase-III has already been underway. For the current year, we have the budget of about QR335 million.”
Speaking on the occasion, Maya Ali said, “SKMCH is not only a hospital but also a home for these children and their parents”. She shared the ordeals of the under privileged cancer patients and urged everyone to support SKMCH in their plans.
Naila Khan, Associate Director Marketing at SKMCH, thanked the organisers, media persons and all the guests for coming out and supporting the cause.
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