American Univesity of Beirut

A call to close the care gap and keep hope shining on World Cancer Day

​​​Office of Communications,​​​

On the occasion of World Cancer Day and under the patronage of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Cancer Support Fund (CSF) – AUBMC held a National Stand for Adult Cancer Patients at the Grand Serail to raise awareness on cancer and to pledge the strong commitment of the American University of Beirut and its medical center to continually assist and support cancer patients. 

The event, which took place on February 4, was attended by Prime Minister Mikati, Minister of Health Firass Abiad , Minister of Industry George Boujkian,  Minister of Environment Nasser Yassin, President of the American University of Beirut Fadlo R. Khuri, Director of Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute (NKBCI) and AVP for Advancement and Communications Ali Taher, President and Founder of the CSF Hala Dahdah Abou Jaber, President of the National Commission for Women's Affairs Claudine Aoun, President of the Doctors Syndicate Sharaf Abu Sharaf, and the ambassadors of the US, Jordan, Canada, and Norway, along with many doctors and healthcare workers.  

During the ceremony, Prime Minister Mikati raised the alarm about the "humanitarian challenge" posed by cancer in Lebanon as the country suffers from a socio-economic collapse, and as access to healthcare and medicines has become increasingly difficult.  He said, “From my position of responsibility, I tell you that the state no longer has the capacity to face this huge humanitarian challenge alone because of the delicate financial situation. We therefore appeal to all officials, the private sector, the local community, the institutions and international donors: Help us face the current precarious conditions because the sick cannot wait for the state budget and until a recovery plan is adopted." He then acknowledged Dr. Taher and Ms. Dahdah Abou Jaber for their perseverance in supporting cancer patients and thanked Dr. Khuri for always putting the capabilities of the American University of Beirut at the service of this noble, humanitarian mission.

For his part, Dr. Firass Abiad reiterated his comments earlier this week claiming that the authorizations had been granted to Banque du Liban to import cancer drugs, and that these would be available "within the next two weeks." He also claimed that the current cabinet's budget spending plan for year 2022 for his ministry is five times higher than the previous year's, which should make it possible to "support patients."

Ms. Dahdah Abou Jaber thanked Prime Minister Mikati for being one of the first supporters of the fund since its establishment in 2018. She announced that the fund was able to support and treat more than 750 patients and 2,500 hospital encounters. “We will not let anyone extinguish the flame, and we will not stand idly in the face of the daunting challenges, so we call on everyone to extend a helping hand to us to continue supporting cancer patients."​

Professor Taher delivered a speech in which he said: "We meet today on the occasion of World Cancer Day for a national stand for cancer patients, especially the adult ones. We, at the Cancer Support Fund, are working relentlessly to lift the burden off the shoulders of the patients and to provide them with hospitalization and medicine . This is due to the failure to do the minimum duty to treat cancer patients."

In his turn, Dr. Khuri stressed on the importance of such events and said, “It is very important to be together today and to show our clear support for a message of hope. With important initiatives like the Cancer Support Fund at the American University of Beirut, we will be able to give hope. Yes, we are losing physicians in unfathomable numbers, and nurses, and we are losing intellect and many people believe there is little hope but I think we are all here today because we refuse to believe that hope is lost. Hope is in kind gestures, there are many people here who started to lose hope, but a small act or a large one can change that such as the return of the most important cancer surgeons, Dr. Raymond Sawaya to Lebanon, and many other doctors. People give and sacrifice because hope matters. Today we are making a statement in support of hope."​
The ceremony ended with lighting a hall at the Grand Serail to keep hope shining, to shed light on cancer patients and their pain, and to find sustainable solutions for them.

A day prior to the event, the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the NKBCI and the CSF at the American University of Beirut Medical Center organized a lighting ceremony at Saab Medical Library to raise awareness on cancer and to call for closing the care gap. 

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