Attempts to reduce cancer risk in Kurdistan
Statistics reveal over 8000 people were diagnosed with cancer from 2004 to 2012 in Kurdistan
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.