Stigma-fighting breast cancer van hits Gaza streets

Meet Georgette Harb.

She’s been driving around Gaza raising awareness about breast cancer and trying to fight the stigma associated with the disease.

As leader of the ‘There’s no shame in it’ campaign, launched by private charity Fares Al-Arab in association with the Ministry of Health, she’s been promoting early detection and testing.

In Gaza, home to two million people, the health ministry says breast cancer accounts for 32 per cent of cancer cases among women.

According to the World Health Organization, 90 per cent of women fully recover if the cancer is detected early.

But in the conservative Palestinian enclave, the social stigma associated with the disease means many women are unaware they’re unwell - like Amani Khalil:

“I didn't know that I had cancer. I thought it is only muscle pain because I slept badly. I discovered the disease after the checks and the X-ray which showed the tumour."

On the road, Georgette’s mobile testing van has been providing scans for some 150 women a day over the past week during the start of October’s breast cancer awareness month.

“'There's no shame in it' is a message of hope and safety for every women, telling them to go ahead and check.”

In Gaza cancer patients not only face high rates of poverty, but also a lack of medication in the territory’s hospitals and some difficulty accessing treatment in Israel, the West Bank and beyond due to permit restrictions.

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