Algeria - ancer screening in remote areas of algeria
Samia Gasmi is the founder and the president of the Nour Doha Association. Assisted by volunteer doctors, she visits isolated populations in the south of Algeria to offer them access to cancer screenings.
As a medical assistant for an insurance company, Samia witnessed the distress and solitude experienced by numerous underprivileged families struggling with cancer in rural areas. With an insufficient number of oncologists and a serious lack of adapted medical facilities, the inhabitants of these remote regions have difficulty accessing cancer screenings and treatments. In 2002, Samia decided to create “Nour Doha”, meaning “daylight” in Arabic, to bring cancer aid to these populations.
According to the figures from the National Algerian Institute for Public Health, 40,000 new cases of cancer are detected each year in Algeria. For a long time, there were only 4 cancer centers in the 48 wilayas (departments) of the country in Oran, Blida, Constantine, and Algiers. Since then, the Algerian State has launched the construction of new centers in the country, including in the south. “Some of the cancer sufferers live in the extreme south of the country, 1,200 or even 1,500 km from Algiers. There are no specialist in this region and throughout our campaigns, we unfortunately discover many cases of cancer.”, Samia explains.
No less than 30 specialists from the Pierre and Marie Curie Center in the Mustapha Hospital in Algiers and 15 paramedical practitioners (all volunteers) regularly visit the association’s regional posts, particularly in the south of the country. There, they perform cancer screening campaigns while raising awareness among local doctors. When potential cancer cases are detected, the association takes the transfer of the patients and their families to Algiers in charge, covers for their medical care and provides an apartment for them to stay in during the entire treatment.
Samia relates: “The situation there for sick women is critical. There are no mammograms in these remote villages. It was in 2016, in October, which is the International Breast Cancer Awareness Month, that I had the idea to approach Total in Algeria for help.” Through the support offered by the Group, the association was able to finance 70 mammograms as well as
provide clothes for the children of sick parents. This operation resulted in the detection of three cases of breast cancer. Throughout 2016, the visits to the most isolated populations enabled Samia Gasmi and the doctors from the association to examine 1,800 women and provide medical support for 28 of them.
“Since the beginning of our field work in 2003, we have seen encouraging results, notably in terms of growing awareness and understanding of the disease. Before, breast cancer was taboo in Algeria. Women hid their disease, even from their husbands, and they had a hard time allowing male doctors to examine them. Today, they are more comfortable and willing to do it. That improvement is also thanks to Nour Doha.”
- 533 sufferers screened
- 4,711 medical actions (exams and consultations, besides screenings)
- 183 sufferers given lodging
- 27 regions visited
- 1,565 people benefited from early breast cancer diagnoses