His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah witnessed the inauguration of the global forum on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) held under the patronage and presence of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) and International Ambassador for the World Cancer Declaration of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC.
During his opening address at the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre His Highness Sultan Dr Sultan Al Qasimi welcomed delegates from the UAE and around the globe. “The emirate of Sharjah grants all human beings love and appreciation. We strive for all humankind at the local and internal level in this field, which has been overlooked by many officials. Now NCDs have reached a level that cannot be ignored anymore because they will impact everything, they impact humanity as a whole. Therefore we see there is a major responsibility and now today you are opening up the way for addressing the issue in NCDs Alliance Forum. This forum must have a main focus and focal point and communication to ensure it follows up in the implementation of the forums recommendations.”
His Highness added, “We will do all we can from our side and want to provide you all kinds of material and moral support. Therefore we offer all our medical resources and experts at your disposal. We have the medical complex that includes medical, surgical, research and scientific centres that have been furnished with state of the art technologies. Over the past few days we also established the cancer research center in collaboration medical research centers worldwide. We place all of these centres at your disposal. I hope this conference will achieve its objective and we look forward to your recommendations. You are paving the way for finding solution to NCDS and we wish you every success.”
The inaugural session held under the theme “NCD Advocacy and Accountability in the Post-2015 Era”, was attended by HRH Princess Ghida Al-Talal, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, King Hussein Cancer Foundation; HRH Princess Dina Mired, Director General, King Hussein Cancer Foundation, Honorary Chairperson of the Jordan Breast Cancer Program; HE Abdulla Ali Mahyan, Chairman of Sharjah Health Authority and Healthcare City, Chairman of Board of Trustees at University Hospital Sharjah; His Excellency Mohamed Obaid Al Zaabi, head of Protocol Department, Khalid Jassim Al Midfa, Director General of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority; Noura Al Noman, Chairperson of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi Executive office, HE Dr Abdul Aziz Al Muhairi, Director of Sharjah Health Authority; Dr Cary Adams, CEO Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and Past Chair, NCD Alliance Steering Group; Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus, PAHO, NCD Alliance Expert Advisory Group; Sir Trevor Hassell, President, Healthy Caribbean Coalition and Government of Barbados Special Envoy on NCDs and Chairman of the Barbados National NCD Commission.; Ms Johanna Ralston, NCD Alliance Vice-Chair & CEO World Heart Federation (WHF).
In her keynote address, HE Ameera Binkaram, President of the Board of Directors, Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) welcomed delegates to Sharjah, known as the smiling Emirate and spoke about the many health programs launched in Sharjah. She said, “Sharjah has launched several landmark initiatives to battle diseases through educational and awareness campaigns. It is home to many health societies and organisations that help consolidate the emirate's stature as a global model for a healthy life. We are proud that Sharjah continues to raise hope thanks to the vision and directives of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, and the close follow up of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi. Today, we are here due to her leadership in order to discuss the ways and means to tackle non-communicable diseases throughout the world, particularly in low-and middle-income countries.”
BinKaram added that Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi established the first society dedicated to the care of cancer patients in the UAE, the Friends of Cancer Patients Society, which has, since then, worked tirelessly to support cancer patients throughout the UAE. Two years ago, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher was chosen by the International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC, in recognition of her outstanding efforts.
“Her Highness has worked tirelessly to mobilise international support for cancer patients and launched several initiatives and visited many countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Tanzania and the United States of America, as part of her efforts to support cancer patients worldwide. Last year, Sheikha Jawaher visited New York where she met with a number of officials and representatives from NCD’s organisations from all over the world. During the meeting, Her Highness discussed the importance of collective international action to fight against noncontagious diseases. Stemming from Sharjah's eagerness to support this issue and continue to boost all health initiatives, Her Highness announced her willingness to host the first NCD Forum in Sharjah, which will remain the smiling emirate to its visitors and the entire world. Today, we are here together as Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher wishes.”
BinKaram introduced a short film outlining the achievements of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher including founding the Friends of Cancer Patients, Friends of Kidney Patients, Friends for Diabetes and being the Royal Patron of the Pink Caravan which led to her being appointed as patron of the first ever global forum on NCDs.
In his address, Dr Jose Luis Castro, Chair NCDA, thanked His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher for the support, patronage and leadership they bring to the world’s efforts against cancer and to the non-communicable disease cause. He also thanked FoCP for their hard work and hospitality, saying, “You have enabled the fulfilment of Her Highness’s generous invitation to hold this historic occasion here in Sharjah. This is a moment of significance. It is the first-ever convening of the global NCDs civil society movement on such a scale. We represent 40 nations. More than 200 of us are here.”
Castro went on to say that due to the UN’s Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals that included non-communicable disease targets for the first time, the forum was happening at a critical time. “With this landmark action, for which we all worked so tirelessly, the focus now shifts. It pivots from global policymaking to implementation at the national and regional levels, and to identifying sustainable resources,” he said. “We are united by the vision of a future in which all people affected by or living with NCD live full, healthy lives, free from stigma, discrimination and preventable disability or death.”
The forum includes three plenary sessions focusing on three key areas: Advocacy and Accountability, Organisational Development and Collaboration for Success and each session is followed by a workshop stream on the same topic. The forum will also share good practices, exchange knowledge, advance capacity building efforts, deepen collaboration and discuss the NCD Alliance’s newly ratified strategic plan for the 2016-2020 period. The Global NCD Alliance Forum brings together over 200 NCD leaders, including representatives from national and regional NCD Alliances, international NGOs, multilateral organisations, governments, and the private sector.