Last year alone, this pioneering team reached out to thousands of people across the UAE as it continued to raise awareness of the necessity for cancer screening. We spoke to Project Manager Lize de Jonge.
Exactly what is Pink Caravan?
It’s an initiative of the Friends of Cancer Patients charity organisation with the aim to encourage men and women across the UAE to have medical screenings, plus instill the importance of self-examination.
How does it do that?
During our two-year campaign we’ve screened more than 16,500 people. Last year we visited 40 corporate locations providing discussion sessions and free screenings and advising, where necessary, for further check-ups. The Pink Caravan Ride is the most famous aspect of our campaign, comprising a 10-day horse trek to far-flung areas of the UAE. We ride with a qualified medical team and a mobile mammography machine and reach those with limited access to medical centres and information.
What are the challenges in this region?
Traditions, customs and existing myths about cancer can discourage people from participating. It can also be hard to encourage people whose test results suggest there is a need for a follow-up to go to a medical centre for further examinations. In many cases, centres are not easily accessible. We provide transport and support.
In your travels, what have you learnt about life in the lesser-known areas of the region?
Life is modest compared with the urban areas in the UAE. People in these areas are extremely hospitable, with their values deeply entrenched in the Arab- Islamic culture.