Breast Cancer Awareness in the West Bank and Jordan
Breast cancer poses a health care challenge for women in the Middle East mostly because of the lack of awareness on the importance of early detection. Health officials estimate that seven out of ten cases are detected at advanced stages when survival rates are much lower and the cost of treatment is much higher.
Many Palestinian women are uninformed about breast cancer or discouraged from finding out about it because of social stigma and society’s attitude towards cancer in general. In the underprivileged Wehdat refugee camp in Jordan, for example, there are an estimated 88,000 women over 20 years of age and the majority are either uninformed or reluctant to seek a diagnosis or help for breast cancer.
ANERA’s two-year breast cancer awareness program (2009-2011) targeted 8,000 Palestinian women in several West Bank communities to show them how to protect against breast cancer. The project set up outreach programs that were coordinated in their communities among local organizations, women’s centers and clinics. ANERA ensured that men also participated in awareness sessions to understand that they also could be affected.
In Jordan, ANERA partnered with the Jordan Breast Cancer Program (JBCP) to establish a system of home visits reaching out to thousands of women, aged 40-65, living in Wehdat refugee camp. Several hundred women were later referred to free-of-charge mammography screening. The home visit program served as model for other community outreach programs.
How It Worked
- Informed health educators about how to provide comprehensive information on breast cancer and risk factors and about how to raise awareness about the importance of self-breast examinations.
- Trained primary health care providers, community health educators and volunteers by organizing group sessions, home visits, and individual counseling.
- Published a breast cancer booklet (read it in English and in Arabic) and other materials for women to share with family and community.
Meet the Women
Reem, young mother from Abu Dis: “I didn’t know the proper way of doing this examination. I never knew that I should feel the lower part of my breasts or how to properly maneuver my hand over them.” Read the story>>
Health educator Rana Ebiyeeh: “You’re responsible for your own body and no one else but you can take care of it.” Read the story>>