Qatar's National Breast and Bowel Cancer Screening Programme Provides Free Cancer Screening
Breast and bowel cancer remain the two leading forms of cancers threatening the health of Qatar's population to date. However, through the ongoing targeted engagement campaigns led by the Primary Health Care Cooperation (PHCC) across the State of Qatar, awareness of the benefits of early screening is gaining momentum.
Screen for Life, Qatar's breast and bowel screening program, was initiated by the Ministry of Public Health under Qatar's National Cancer Program in accordance with the country's National Health Strategy 2011-2016. Since the program launch to date, PHCC has celebrated significant achievements in efforts to promote education, awareness and early detection of breast and bowel cancer in Qatar.
The program's main objectives are; first to spread awareness about breast and bowel cancer and about the importance of early detection through screening; and second to provide the best screening service in Qatar.
The program mainly targets women aged 45 to 69 for breast cancer screening and women and men aged 50 to 74 for bowel cancer screening.
The program is continuously evolving and is moving forward with the Ministry of Public Health's (MOPH) new recommendations for the National Cancer Framework 2017-2022.
Among those recommendations are:
- The training and introduction of specialist clinical nurses across healthcare facilities with a deep understanding of cancer care and the Screen For Life program.
- The introduction of a system for urgent referrals for screening in suspected cancer cases.
- The opening of a specialist care unit at the National Center for Cancer Care & Research (NCCCR), which is part of the Hamad Medical Corporation. The unit will offer patient-focused support and care and has been designed to soothe patients in a calming environment.
- The establishment of the National Cancer Registry (QNCR).
- The continued rollout and implementation of the latest treatments, technologies and procedures.
Specialized Screening Suites
The program marked several major achievements, including the inauguration of three dedicated breast and bowel cancer screening suites located in Al Wakra Health Center, Leabaib Health Center and Rawdat Al Khail Health Center. Through these screening suites, PHCC has created a spa-like environment, designed to offer participants a comfortable and relaxing setting, making the whole screening process a pleasant one.
Mobile Screening Services
To complement the efforts being made within PHCC's dedicated centres, in June 2016, a mobile breast screening unit was launched—the first of its kind in Qatar.
The mobile screening unit's main task is to facilitate breast cancer screening services for ladies residing in communities that are not within easy reach of the three dedicated Screen For Life facilities. The mobile unit is considered a "moving clinic" as it is spacious and air conditioned, provides high levels of comfort to patients, is manned by highly skilled female healthcare professionals trained to efficiently operate the facility's state-of-the-art equipment while offering eligible women free breast screening in total privacy. The mobile unit is also a wheelchair-friendly moving clinic for ladies with special needs.
A dedicated call centre
Facilitating enquiries and appointments, PHCC set up the Screen for Life Call Center (8001112), whose team members proactively reach out to individuals to introduce the program, encourage potential patients to book an appointment for screening and to receive calls and answer all queries about screening and screening appointments. From its start of operation in February 2016, the call centre made 66,209 outgoing calls, with 38,431 invited for screening. These numbers continue to grow through the dedicated efforts of the team.
The program's team
PHCC's vision and goals are supported by a team of highly trained medical and technical staff, who operate state-of-the-art equipment and provide patients with the utmost quality of care. Each initiative and campaign is carefully planned to ensure maximum exposure and reach to the wider community.
From the health and awareness angle, PHCC has assigned a dedicated team who works tirelessly throughout the year to maximise awareness across the state through different channels, including messaging campaigns, community outreach, educational lectures and more.
Who should enrol in screening?
Because healthy citizens play an important part in the growth and development of Qatar, PHCC launched this program for people in Qatar. Breast and bowel cancer screening is unconditionally vital for nationals and expats. If you meet the below criteria, you are eligible to get your free screening
Breast Cancer Screening:
- Women aged between 45 and 69 years old
- Showing no breast cancer-related symptoms
- Holder of valid health card
Bowel Cancer Screening:
- Men and women aged between 50 and 74 years old
- Showing no bowel cancer-related symptoms
- Holder of valid health card
How to enrol in screening?
Call the program's call centre on 8001112 and the call agent will assist in booking a screening appointment at one of the three dedicated screening centres.
On the day of the appointment, patients are welcomed at the reception by the Hayyak team who will direct them to the screening suite for check-in. Afterwards, eligible ladies will meet the nurse in charge for consultation and assessment then they will be escorted to the mammography room for breast screening.
Bowel cancer screening patients will be escorted to the consultation rooms for assessment. They will be given a special kit for bowel screening called a "FIT kit" with an instruction sheet to conduct the test at home. They must bring the kit back to any of the health centres for a sample analysis.
The whole process for breast and bowel screening suite visit will take no more than 20 minutes, afterwards, patients can resume their daily activities.
Test results will be directly communicated to patients. If the results are normal, patients will receive an SMS text. If a test results in an abnormal outcome, patients will be called to visit the health centre again and will be referred to Hamad Medical Corporation for further investigation.
The program aims to expand efforts in spreading awareness among the larger community through a proper strategy and pre-prepared plans led by PHCC and in partnership with entities across Qatar.
To get updates from Screen For Life you can follow the program on its social media channels @screenforlifeqa including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
About the Breast and Bowel Cancer Screening programme
The Breast and Bowel Screening Program is a life-saving, population-based initiative that aims to promote education, awareness and early detection of breast and bowel cancer in Qatar. Titled ‘Screen for Life', it is being conducted under Qatar's National Cancer Program and in accordance with the country's National Health Strategy 2011-2016, which represents a shift towards preventive and community-based care. The National Cancer Strategy's 5.2 Key Recommendation states the need for a population-based cancer screening program in Qatar.
The Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), a provider of a wide range of primary health care services across the State of Qatar, has been given the authority to lead the program. To ensure its effective and efficient implementation, PHCC has tapped the expertise of an international consortium of companies: Fujifilm from Japan, which supplies medical equipment and information solutions; RadNet from the U.S., which performs clinical and operational services; and, Specialized Medical Solutions (SMS), which provides on-the-ground administrative support in Doha. For more info, please visit screenforlife.qa
On 20 February 2012, H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa AL Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, issued Emiri decree No. (15) on the Establishment of the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), in understanding of the importance of primary health care to the success and well-being of Qatar. PHCC operates 21 primary health care centres distributed across Central, Western and Northern Qatar. Through these centres, PHCC provides services that focus on disease prevention and maintaining population health, as well as on diagnoses and treatment, for the population—from infants to elderly. For more information, visit phcc.qa