Posted on December 01, 2014

With the month of October coming to an end, the National Cancer Program concludes its “Be Breast Aware” campaign which was a major success; reaching a wide circle of women in Qatar and helping to reduce the stigma associated with breast cancer. NCP took a proactive and empowering approach to encourage women to become breast aware and take control of their health and wellbeing. And to make sure awareness messages still resonate after the month of October, NCP is still managing ongoing activities to raise awareness about cancer throughout the year.

According to recent registry data, 198 breast cancer cases (Women only) were reported last year alone, rendering the disease the most common form of cancer among women in Qatar. However, research has shown that early detection of breast cancer offers better, more successful treatment options, saving thousands of lives each year. To encourage increased awareness and the opportunity for early detection, NCP created Monthlies, a smartphone application targeting young women to help them become more breast-aware. Available in both Arabic and English, the app is mainly designed to help women keep track of their monthly cycle and sends notifications with gynecological and breast advice. Since its release in the beginning of October, the Monthlies application was downloaded over 304 times over a period of 3 weeks.

NCP also installed an interactive pink booth in different educational and health institutions in Doha, including Qatar University’s College of Art and Science, Aspire Active Ladies Club and Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU). The booth has proven to be a big hit and the campaign’s central focus, attracting over 3080 women throughout the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The activation distributed 3000 informative leaflets giving vital information about breast cancer, the signs and symptoms, and the different forms of prevention. Visitors were able to talk to female health professionals and share their health concerns and desire to learn more about prevention. Women who were interested to learn more about being breast aware were escorted to a viewing room inside the booth. The room screened a friendly instructional video featuring a medical mannequin and a demonstration of what being breast aware actually means.. Visitors also took home pink ribbons and bracelets carrying messages of hope to spread the word about breast cancer prevention and early detection, as well as links to the Monthlies application.

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Beverly, a health professional from HMC, took part in the activation and expressed her delight at the overwhelmingly positive response from visitors, “I’m pleasantly surprised by how willing women were to open up about their fears and concerns about breast cancer and their eagerness to learn more about prevention. The demonstrational video was very helpful and viewer-friendly, and was successful in giving practical advice to women who visited the booth. We hope every visitor is compelled to share the knowledge she learned with her friends and family, and help translate this information into behavioral changes.”

Other institutions such as Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, University of Calgary in Qatar and Stenden University Qatar have also shown their support to “Be Breast Aware” by handing out NCP informative leaflets to their female student community. NCP also partnered with Lulu Hypermarket and Intimissimi to promote the ‘Be Breast Aware’ campaign by attaching pink ribbons to the underwear on display. Fitness institutions including Aspire Active Ladies Club, Qatar Women’s Sports Committee, The Venue at Al Sadd and Fitness First at City Center, also joined the cause and hung large pink, visually appealing posters in locker rooms and bathrooms which promote the dedicated Monthlies app to women.

Fiona Bonas, Director of NCP, commented, “We are proud to announce “Be Breast Aware” campaign a huge success, reaching out to thousands of women in Qatar and gaining vast interest and support from the community. Without doubt, such a resounding success could not have been possible without the commitment and collaboration of various institutions, the media and participating members of the society. We are motivated and excited to launch our upcoming campaigns in the fight against cancer in Qatar.”

The ‘Be Breast Aware’ campaign is the second major initiative launched by NCP after the ongoing Cancer Myth Refutation Campaign that aims to dispel common misconceptions about cancer. NCP has also released two videos featuring influential figures and activists in the Qatari society, highlighting the importance of cancer awareness, and calling upon everyone in Qatar to take action against this disease.