Educating healthcare workers in Saudi Arabia

  • Mobile Mammogram Unit for detecting breast cancer in rural areas of Saudi Arabia, Al Madinah City
    Mobile Mammogram Unit for detecting breast cancer in rural areas of Saudi Arabia, Al Madinah City
  • Roche team with Dr Ibrahim Al Shinaibar, Chairman of Scientific Affairs, and Dr Mohammed El Sayes, Medical Director, Saudi Cancer Foundation
    Roche team with Dr Ibrahim Al Shinaibar, Chairman of Scientific Affairs, and Dr Mohammed El Sayes, Medical Director, Saudi Cancer Foundation
  • Dr Wedad Ba Katada, consultant radiologist. mammogram workshop
    Dr Wedad Ba Katada, consultant radiologist. mammogram workshop

Project Outreach raises awareness of cancer and improves screening in remote areas

The challenge

About 80% of Saudi Arabia’s population of 27 million live in urban areas, where most of the specialised oncology centres are located. However, expertise in oncology is lacking in the country’s vast rural area, which covers some 2.5 million square kilometres. Health services are usually provided by general practitioners, family advisers or gynaecology-obstetrics units. Consequently, many cancer patients living in rural or remote areas die without being diagnosed, or they are referred to a cancer centre in a major city with late-stage disease.

What we’re doing

Project Outreach is an initiative between Roche, the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia, key opinion leaders and national cancer associations. Started in 2013, the project aims to ensure that healthcare workers located in rural areas in Saudi Arabia are properly educated and updated regarding proper examination and diagnoses methods.

The project includes a dedicated team of medical educators who travel remote areas to raise awareness of cancer, improve screening by local healthcare workers and provide referral information for diagnosed breast cancer patients to Oncology Centers in main cities for follow up and treatment.

Launched in 2014, The Pink Kingdom Caravan started its journey from the Al Khobar in the eastern province, covering the central, southern, and western provinces to end its journey in Jeddah. Targeting remote areas, it launched awareness and educational activities for primary care physicians and the public.

Our impact

In 2015, our project carried on and delivered 44 Educational Activities and 46 awareness campaigns. In addition, 16,709 women were screened and 163 positive cases were identified and referred to receive treatment.

Through-out our journey, three local foundations joined The Pink Kingdom Caravan and medical students volunteered and joined us in several activities and awareness campaigns with the public.

A major TV channel endorsed the caravan and highlighted the journey in one of its famous health related programs “Green Apple’. In addition, 6 Breast Cancer Survivors joined in our awareness campaigns and we celebrated ‘The Roche Graduation day for Breast Cancer Survivors’ where commemorative shields were presented to the survivors titled “Inspiring women who beat breast cancer”.

As part of our mission to educate primary care physicians, in collaboration with The Saudi Cancer Foundation, we launched the “Cancer Care for Primary Care” handbook, written by local oncologists and distributed to primary care physicians as a reference and resource to be used in daily practice.

In 2015, Mai Al Jaber, a Saudi business woman, believing in our cause and passionate about “Doing now what patients need next”, supported our project and established a Cancer Early Detection Center based in Dammam. The centre was officially opened in May 2016 sees patients with breast, lung and colorectal cancers.

Tags: Access to healthcare, Women's Health