Yemen's National Cancer Control Foundation recently launched a fundraising and awareness campaign focused on cancer treatment and education regarding the disease's dangers, causes, and prevention methods.
The campaign, titled "Do not leave me to cancer", began June 28th and raised 360 million riyals ($1.7 million) during its first week, according to foundation officials.
The campaign includes arts activities and educational programmes in Sanaa and Aden, Taiz, Hodeidah, and Ibb provinces in response to the rising number of cancer cases in Yemen.
Dr. Ahmed Shamlan, the foundation's secretary-general, said the campaign will enable the foundation to care for cancer patients from various regions in Yemen for the fifth consecutive year.
"The foundation relies on these annual campaigns to raise funds and educate the community, officials and decision makers about the dangers of cancer," he told Al-Shorfa.
"Yemen has a higher number of cancer cases compared with other countries because of harmful practices such as smoking, as the majority of Yemenis are smokers," Shamlan said. "There is also a lack of awareness in the community about the need to act quickly when individuals are stricken with the disease."
The foundation received one billion riyals ($4.7 million) in financial support from the Ministry of Health, the private sector, business people, charitable organizations and the community at large in 2011, according to Shamlan.
The majority of the donations cover the costs of providing patients with free treatment, he said, and the remaining costs are split evenly between the foundation and patients.
The foundation provides free accommodations for patients coming from outside Sanaa through its affiliate "Dar al-Hayat".
Abdel-Waseh Hael Saeed, chairman of the foundation's board of trustees, said, "Cancer is ravaging Yemenis, afflicting 20,000 and killing 9,000 of them every year."
"Seventy percent of cancer patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage, which increases the mortality rate and complicates recovery," he said.
Dr. Ahmed al-Ansi, Yemen's Public Health and Population Minister, said cancer statistics pose a serious financial hurdle for the state.
"The state can only cover 20% of the cost of cancer drugs in Yemen because of poor economic conditions in the country," al-Ansi said during the campaign's launch at foundation's headquarters in Sanaa.
Yemen cannot meet the demand for health services unless the community and various organisations participate in overcoming those challenges, al-Ansi said.
Ali al-Khawlani, the foundation's managing director, praised the private sector and the Health Ministry for helping make the campaign a success.
"The private sector is the foundation's biggest supporter, and the Ministry of Health is keenly interested in cancer patients," he said. "The ministry only became aware of the extent of the cancer problem in Yemen as a result of the foundation's efforts during the past five years."
Al-Khawlani called on "governmental and civil institutions, the private sector, and individual donors to support the foundation's efforts by meetings its needs so it can carry out its mission and achieve its objective of caring for cancer patients".
Khaled Taha Mustafa, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sanaa, said members of the private sector manage the cancer care foundation.
"The private sector bears some responsibility for supporting the foundation's efforts on two levels: a humanitarian level and as part of its social responsibility toward the community," Mustafa said. "All segments of society, from official bodies to civil society organisations to the private sector and benevolent men must work toward saving cancer patients and alleviating their pain."