At­tempts to re­duce can­cer risk in Kur­dis­tan

Statis­tics re­veal over 8000 peo­ple were di­ag­nosed with can­cer from 2004 to 2012 in Kur­dis­tan

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - Zakariya Muhammed

Can­cer has be­come alarm­ingly no­tice­able as a health is­sue in Kur­dis­tan re­gion, with rises in breast, lung and Leukemia be­ing the most com­mon. Statis­tics show that an in­creased num­ber of peo­ple have been di­ag­nosed, com­pared to pre­vi­ous years.

Can­cer has be­come alarm­ingly no­tice­able as a health is­sue in Kur­dis­tan re­gion, with rises in breast, lung and Leukemia be­ing the most com­mon. Statis­tics show that an in­creased num­ber of peo­ple have been di­ag­nosed, com­pared to pre­vi­ous years. The of­fi­cial statis­tics re­leased by Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) min­istry of health show that over 8000 peo­ple have been di­ag­nosed with can­cer from 2004 to 2012 in the three main Health Cen­ters in the prov­inces of Er­bil, Sile­mani and Duhok.

Over 2200 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the report, were di­ag­nosed with can­cer in 2012. The province of Sile­mani has the big­gest share with 1065 cases. The report also high­lights that at least 4000 for­eign­ers re­ceived treat­ment in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion hos­pi­tals as well.

Ac­cord­ing to can­cer spe­cial­ists, can­cer is re­sulted from greasy and sug­ary food, with a high risk in those who are obese. Other fac­tors in­clude ge­net­ics, smok­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion and more.

Although re­search stud­ies are in­con­clu­sive at this time, pre­lim­i­nary ev­i­dence sug­gests that some com­po­nents of food may play a role in de­creas­ing the risk of de­vel­op­ing can­cer, in­clud­ing phy­to­chem­i­cals, an­tiox­i­dants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Phy­to­chem­i­cals are chem­i­cals found in plants that pro­tect plants against bac­te­ria, viruses, and fungi. An­tiox­i­dants are sub­stances that in­hibit the ox­i­da­tion process and act as pro­tec­tive agents. They pro­tect the body from the dam­ag­ing ef­fects of free rad­i­cals (by-prod­ucts of the body’s nor­mal chem­i­cal pro­cesses).

Those di­ag­nosed with can­cer have com­plained that the KRG is not help­ing im­prove their health be­cause they are not pro­vid­ing proper treat­ment to pa­tients. A 35 year-old man who wished to re­main anony­mous said, “The health ser­vices are not good in Kur­dis­tan re­gion. Pa­tients some­times get worse in hos­pi­tals. They op­er­ated three surg­eries on me but not a sin­gle one was suc­cess­ful”.

Aryan Namiq, a hema­tol­o­gist in Er­bil, at­trib­uted the rise in can­cer dis­eases to the en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion due to wars in Iraq, the in­crease of fast food, and smok­ing. "The num­ber of spe­cial­ists treat­ing can­cer in Kur­dis­tan is very few. The avail­able spe­cial­ists can't catch up treat­ing the numer­ous in­fected peo­ple with can­cer," noted Namiq.

Namiq thinks the government needs to build health cen­ters for treat­ing can­cer in sub­ur­ban ar­eas far from the pol­luted en­vi­ron­ment of the crowded cities.

Nanakali is the only avail­able hospi­tal in the Kur­dish cap­i­tal city of Er­bil for treat­ing the blood dis­eases and can­cer. It re­ceives pa­tients who are sent from other hos­pi­tals for treat­ment. Treat­ments with chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal med­i­ca­tions and hor­mone treat­ments are pro­vided for blood can­cer pa­tients with a small cost.

One of the no­tice­able prob­lems the hospi­tal has is that the it is too small to re­ceive a large num­ber of the pa­tients. Although the hospi­tal has the ca­pac­ity of host­ing only 40 pa­tients, Ac­cord­ing to Sami Ah­mad, the hospi­tal di­rec­tor, 70-80 pa­tients visit it for re­ceiv­ing treat­ment ev­ery day. "A Kur­dish man from Er­bil has do­nated enough money to build 100-bed hospi­tal for can­cer treat­ment. In this case we will get out from the short­age of rooms." Dis­closed Namiq.

About a year and half ago, KRG's Health Min­istry founded a coun­cil in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion for de­vel­op­ing re­searches on the can­cer cases. But due to lack of money the coun­cil hasn't been ac­tive.

Khalis Qader, KRG's Health Min­istry's spokesman, said the coun­cil is ex­pected to be ac­tive and Health Min­istry will be able to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices to the hos­pi­tals fol­low­ing the al­lo­ca­tion of 10 mil­lion U.S. dol­lars for treat­ing can­cer dis­eases. "Most of the pa­tients can be fully treated and can live nor­mally es­pe­cially the chil­dren in Kur­dis­tan re­gion. We are aware of the in­crease but the rise has not ex­ceeded from in­ter­na­tional stan­dards." Di­vulged Qader

As the world’s pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to grow and age, the bur­den of can­cer will in­evitably in­crease, even if cur­rent in­ci­dence rates re­main the same. More than half of all can­cers world­wide are al­ready di­ag­nosed in the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, and with­out in­ter­ven­tion this pro­por­tion is pre­dicted to rise in the coming decades. It is es­ti­mated there will be al­most 22.2 mil­lion new cases di­ag­nosed an­nu­ally world­wide by 2030. Th­ese pro­jec­tions are based on de­mo­graphic changes in pop­u­la­tions us­ing UN fig­ures along with crude as­sump­tions.

Child pa­tients re­ceive treat­ment in an Er­bil hospi­tal.

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