Continued Efforts to Establish a National Center Dedicated to Treating Cancer Patients in Palestine

PNN – Palestine News Network –  14.08.11 – 12:31

Jenin – PNN – Ali Samoudi – Statistics and official data show that Palestinian society is prone to very high incidences of cancer, without a doubt due to a number of known factors: the absence of any institutions or officials to deal with the disease and an absence of the awareness of the disease and the possible mechanisms of treatment. Without an institution that can help deal with the patients and their family’s plight as well as teaching the community, many families who deal with cancer have no-one to turn to for help and for knowledge and so the psychological burdens on their life only increases.

Amid this reality, I sat down with a group of young Palestinian university students and a group of doctors and volunteers to discuss the issue of cancer patients in Palestine. This group was not a random selection however; after seeing the suffering of others and some having suffered family and friend losses due to cancer, this passionate group of individuals came together earlier this year to launch the ‘National Assembly for the Care and Support of Cancer Patients in Palestine.

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Beginning of the idea
Community activist Arafat from the village of Jaba, Ramallah, said that the brainchild for founding this initiative was the “great tragedy that I experienced, one of my friends caught the disease and it killed him in the prime of his youth amid a lot of factors, difficulties and problems and the lack of potential and ignorance in dealing with the disease and patients.” continuing he adds, “My friend got the disease and died at the height of youth, like him there have been several similar stories that have brought us together as a group of young people to search for a way to highlight this important issue and search for mechanisms and means to help them.”
Despite the obstacles and difficulties and the lack of material resources, they have intensified the efforts of the volunteer team, and received official permission to form the first national assembly in Palestine to support cancer patients. “We had several meetings and workshops with the participation of patients and their families, officials and decision makers, and we have done extensive field visits which have helped us in defining our programs and our goals. At the forefront is the idea of granting these patients the opportunity to free themselves from the psychological effects and the setbacks of the disease, and alleviate the suffering of cancer patients and their families, as well as improving the medical service, developing and providing all the requirements of their treatment for free due to the high prices and the inability of families to provide such capital for cancer treatment.”
Awareness campaigns
Palestinian law and legislation is in force in Palestine and does give patients many rights and right care and treatment, says Arafat “But the problem is the lack of knowledge patients and their families have about their rights. We are keen to raise awareness and define the patient’s rights so as to break the barriers of awareness in the community; it is the right of a cancer patient to obtain treatment, visit centers, clinics and hospitals of the Ministry of Health. Also included in our activities is to educate the patient and raise morale, in addition to other activities which provide all the tools of support to patients and their families through our care for them. We are also keen to campaign to educate the community to shoulder its responsibilities and to stand beside the patient, making sure he/she will not be neglected. “
Various activities
Amid the will, determination and strive to create the Assembly and to highlight its role and mission, the Assembly has began to implement several activities to be announced in regards to its launch.  Arafat: “Our first campaign donations came from the sons of the security establishment under the auspices of President Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad, who were the first donors, along with the Governor of Ramallah, Dr. Laila Ghannam and the leaders of the security services, without exception, and we got support from the Prime Minister and all the institutions.”
The success of the campaign, gives hope for the Assembly to branch out to the rest of the provinces of the country, “The Assembly decided to open the ways to engage the broadest possible cross section of society from all the provinces to urge all sectors of Palestinian society to support this initiative, that we are in need of support and in urgent need of care and support morally and materially” stated Arafat. He continued saying “in record time we have achieved success and we enjoyed the support and welcome we have had from patients and their families. We feel we have contributed to creating a smile on the faces of the sick and bringing life back to them. Even more important for us is to discharge the patient from the circle of isolation and psychological liberation from life as a hostage of the disease and the cruel fate so that they can live like any other person.”
The awareness campaign includes a definition of the disease and its causes, and effects and ways to prevent and avoid the causes. As Arafat said “Assembly doors open to everyone and we hope everyone is able to volunteer and participate in our humanitarian mission, please do not hesitate to participate and join this national Assembly.”
Highly motivated
In Jenin, several institutions and other young people have decided to volunteer to support the mission of the Assembly. Kalshab Imad Abu Seven coordinator of youth and volunteers for the Palestine Red Crescent Society in the province, said, “The Assembly is in urgent need for Palestinian society to open branches in each province to monitor patients and help and care for them. We hope to increase the number of volunteers in the coming period, because our campaign is of great humanitarian importance and can really contribute to planting a smile on the faces of patients.” He continued explaining that there is the responsibility to organize a campaign to raise funds for the appeal to residents and traders in the province of Jenin in cooperation with these volunteers, noting that the doors are open for donations until they reach the main goal of building a special center for this initiative.
Active volunteer, Rwanda Jalamna of Jalama, has dedicated experience as a university graduate majoring in sociology and community service and wants to see her skills help with the mission of the Assembly: “I volunteered in this campaign, the national humanitarian assistance to cancer patients in Palestine, to help attract wider segments of society to the success of the campaign in the city of Jenin. Community participation is very important because patients need a lot of supplies and aid hand-outs and salaries are not enough, it is essential that we strengthen the spirit of solidarity and cooperation in our society to offer a modest service for these patients.” A student of Al Quds Open University, Jalamna continued saying: “I participated in the campaign to help children with cancer, and help contribute to give them hope in life and raise their morale, and I stand by them and I share the concerns of people for their happiness.”

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