MOH News
"Burden of Cancer in Gulf Region": A Conference Launched under Eng. Faqih's Auspices
22 October 2014
He the Acting Minister of Health, Eng. Adel bin Mohammed Faqih, has expected an increase in the incidence rates of cancer in the Gulf region due to changes in life style, and the increased risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity and other environmental causes, as well as changes in the genetic mutations. He confirmed, meanwhile, that the cancer incidence rate in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states is considered less that the rates in other countries. 
This came during a speech delivered on his behalf by the Vice Minister of Health for Health Affairs, Dr. Mansour bin Nasser Al-Howasi, during the opening of the international conference on the "Burden of Cancer in the Gulf Region", which took place yesterday (Tuesday) in the evening at the Intercontinental Hotel – Riyadh, and will last for three days. The conference is organized by the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers' Council, in collaboration with the General Corporation of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, under the theme: "Fill in Gaps".
Eng. Faqih said that cancer is a global health problem whose increasing burden is suffered by all health systems due to population growth on the one hand, and the increased cancer triggers on the other hand. We all have to work together to fill in as many gaps as possible, in order to curb the spread of the disease, and put an end to the increase of its incidence rates in the Gulf region.
He said, "The conference will provide the ideal opportunity for the GCC states and health care providers and experts in the field of cancer fighting, in addition to decision-makers, economists, non-governmental scientific organizations and local organizations at all national, regional and international levels, to work together to fill in the gaps in the method of fighting cancer, exchange of information on the best methods of prevention, develop solutions to reduce the social, economic and developmental burden of the disease which represents a heavy, costly burden incurred by all health systems, without exception."
On his part, Dr. Qasim bin Othman A-Qasabi, the Executive Supervisor-General of the General Corporation of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, explained that the total cancer cases that have benefited from the specialized diagnostic and treatment services during the period from 1975 up to the end of 2013 amounted to 80.000 cases, noting that the Hospital is pioneer in the Gulf region and East Mediterranean countries in the treatment of cancer, and takes up a leading position at the international level. 
Within the same vein, Director-General of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers' Council, Dr. Tawfik Khoja, emphasized that the recent studies have shown that the average economic cost of the newly diagnosed cancer patient amounted to more than USD 16.000 per year in America, with a total cost of USD 216.6 billion, while the economic burden of cancer in the European Union states is estimated at 2.45 million patients, and 1.23 million deaths caused by the disease, with a total cost of EUR 126 billion in 2009, of which the health care costs amount to about 40%, or EUR 51 billion.
Khoja pointed out that the, so far the economic aspect is concerned, lung cancer is the most adverse (USD188 billion), followed by colon and rectal cancer (USD 99 billion) and then breast cancer (USD 88 billion). According to Dr. Khoja, cancer is the second cause of death globally (20%), higher than the percentage of cardiovascular diseases, which rank the first cause of death worldwide.
On the other hand, Executive Director of the Gulf Center for Cancer Control, Ali bin Sa'eed Al-Zahrani, who is also Chairman of the Conference's Organizing Committee, explained that 60% of the cases diagnosed as having cancer are from age group under 60 years, and more than 50% of them were diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease, which further worsens the psychological and social burden as well as increasing costs of treatment and continued pressure on specialized centers and reference hospitals.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Dr. Saleh bin Fahad Al-Othman, the Deputy Executive Director of the Gulf Center for Cancer Control, Deputy Chairman of the Organizing Committee, and Chairman of the Scientific Committee, said that 65% of cancer cases occur in the developing and least developed countries, which necessitates reviewing the health systems in these countries and developing strategies to address the disease.
Dr. Al-Othman underscored the importance of activating cancer control programs in the Gulf States for the purpose of reducing the risk factors, raising health awareness, intensifying programs of early detection of cancer, in addition to improving the health services with its three levels.
He pointed out that 55 scientists and researchers in the field of cancer fighting from USA, Europe, Australia, India and Arab countries are participating in the conference to discuss 63 papers, noting that the conference's scientific program was accredited for 25 hours of continued education by Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCHS), and 31 hours by the US Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).

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