I am Sara Rashid from Kurdistan Save the Children, a national NGO in Iraqi Kurdistan. I attended the Economist War on Cancer, Middle East conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2018. It was here that I was able to meet with staff from UICC for the first time and we were able to see the value that becoming a member brings as a global platform and the resources this mobilises. I saw how beneficial it would be for our NGO to utilise the UICC membership to help implement cancer control measures at regional and national levels, and for that reason, we joined as a member.
'We feel very much supported to achieve the results we want.' - Sara Rashid, Kurdistan Save the Children
There are financial controls on most of our countries in the Middle East region, but eventually, we were able to join as a full UICC Member in July 2018. By October, there was a call to become a Treatment for All National Champion to which we applied and were selected as one of the 17 civil society organisations chosen. Kurdistan Save the Children is committed to becoming the leader of the global Treatment for All movement in Iraq. We are now connecting with our mentor organisation, the King Hussein Cancer Foundation, that will provide us with guidance and targeted technical support to enable us to unite with national-level civil society in our country. We are considering their recommendations and building an action plan to effectively intervene in national cancer control programmes. As a country champion, we are very much looking forward to bridging the national equity gap in access to cancer services in our region with the support from both the King Hussein Cancer Foundation and the UICC.
I was also at the Leadership in Action meeting in Muscat, Oman, 1-3 April this year to further my leadership skills and to be equipped with new tools provided by UICC to advance our organisation’s strategies. The connections made and the diverse programme were some of the highlights of the experience for me. I am now better prepared for the action plan that, I believe, civil society needs to have in Kurdistan to be able to tackle cancer control in a more effective way.
I would say that being a member of UICC is about shaping your own journey and using the opportunities that are of most value for your own organisation as well as the needs and gaps in your country. Access to the regional and global platforms is really important for us civil society organisations working in cancer control in the MENA region.
“We are working together to get the Treatment for All advocacy up where it should be in our country.” - Sara Rashid, Kurdistan Save the Children