On 1 March, as part of the UNRWA Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, over 50 Palestine refugee women gathered at Al-Amal Association for Persons with Disabilities in Rafah, southern Gaza, to learn more about and discuss breast cancer and early detection.
The session was 1 of over 100 planned awareness and outreach sessions being conducted through the UNRWA health programme between mid-February and mid-March 2016. Sessions are being held in the 21 UNRWA health centres across Gaza, but also in UNRWA-supported community-based organizations, such as rehabilitation centres and women’s programme centres, often located in remote areas.
The session at Al-Amal Association was designed for deaf women. It was led by UNRWA senior nurse Jamalat Abu Hilal and translated into sign language by staff from Al-Amal.
“Three years ago, my brother’s wife died from breast cancer. Since then, I continuously raise awareness among women in the community of how they can better protect themselves from it through early detection,” explained Ms. Jamalat. “I hope that all women who participate in these awareness sessions will themselves go and function as messengers for other women whom we could not reach directly; the information must be transferred to everyone,” she added.
During the session, Jamalat explained to the women in detail of the importance of regular check-ups and screenings to detect potential breast cancer at an early stage, how women can check themselves, and to what extent family medical history can impact the chance of getting breast cancer. The senior nurse also advised the women on where they can go to seek help and professional advice.
“This disease is very dangerous, and I am glad I learned how to better protect myself,” commented 24-year-old participant Raghda Hashem, who said she was informed about breast cancer for the first time in her life.
After the session, UNRWA health staff also distributed breast cancer awareness brochures to all women for further information and offered free check-ups to all participating women.
The UNRWA Breast Cancer Awareness Initiative is supported by the Basque Government through the second phase of funding of the Basque Strategic Framework for Humanitarian Action. This strategic and comprehensive initiative was elaborated with the aim of preventing physical, sexual, economic and psychological violence against women and their children in the Gaza Strip by promoting women’s health, access to sexual and reproductive rights and services, training and employment opportunities for vulnerable youth, and promoting the rights of women and resilience against gender-based violence.