Increasing Awareness and Diagnosis of Cancer

Partnership objective

Raise awareness of cancer and improve screening in vast remote areas in Saudi Arabia.

Dr Wedad Ba Katada, consultant radiologist at a mammogram workshop. Dr Wedad Ba Katada, consultant radiologist at a mammogram workshop. Copyright Roche

What are the health needs and challenges?

About 80% of Saudi Arabia’s population of 27 million live in urban areas, where most of the specialised oncology centres are located. However, expertise in oncology is lacking in the country’s vast rural area, which covers some 2.5 million square kilometres. Health services are usually provided by general practitioners, family advisers or gynaecology-obstetrics units. Consequently, many cancer patients living in rural or remote areas die without being diagnosed, or they are referred to a cancer center in a major city with late-stage disease.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Project Outreach is an initiative between Roche, the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia, key opinion leaders and national cancer associations, such as the Saudi Cancer Society. Started in 2013, the project aims to ensure that people living in remote areas are properly diagnosed and referred to specialists early enough to receive treatment.

The project includes a dedicated team of eight medical educators who travel remote areas of Saudi Arabia. The team’s role is to raise awareness of cancer, improve screening by local healthcare workers and provide referral information regarding cancer treating physicians in major cities. The project also helped support the opening of a new breast cancer clinic in the main hospital in Bisha.

In 2015, the project carried out 44 educational activities and 46 awareness campaigns. Furthermore, 16,709 women were screened and 163 positive cases were identified and the women were referred to centres to receive treatment.

Project Outreach activities have included organising a breast cancer symposium for primary care physicians in Madinah, where physicians were briefed on the fundamentals of cancer diagnosis, surgical treatment and chemotherapy by specialists from Saudi Arabia’s leading hospitals.

Roche also worked in collaboration with The Saudi Cancer Foundation, launching the “Cancer Care for Primary Care” handbook, which was written by local oncologists and distributed to primary care physicians as a reference and resource to be used on a daily basis. 

Partnership information

Company(ies) Roche

Partner(s) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Local hospitals & health centers & patient groups, Saudi Cancer Society

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Non-Communicable Diseases, Women and Children's Health

Disease(s) Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Childhood Cancers, Women's Health

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Marginalised / Indigenous People, Mothers, Patients in needs of treatment, People with low income, Women

Region(s) Middle East & North Africa

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Saudi Arabia

Start Date 2013

More information Roche Access to Healthcare

Anticipated completion date Ongoing