Aid and Hope Program for Cancer Patients Care (AHP) is a Palestinian nongovernmental organization that was established in 2010 in the Gaza Strip. AHP was the first of its kind in Gaza to provide awareness raising and psychosocial support for breast cancer patients. During our 11 years of operation, we have managed to reach over 120,000 women, approximately 70 percent of whom were unaware of ways to ensure early detection or screen for breast cancer.
The idea behind establishing AHP emerged through the motto: “The rich are poor when it comes to cancer.” Cancer is expensive and places great burdens on individuals, societies, and countries because it requires an appropriate infrastructure and specialized hospitals to deal with patients in a holistic manner. Moreover, cancer patients have the right to universal health care within a system that ensures that all people have equal access to quality health care where and when they need it, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
It is not easy to be sick with cancer, and it is even more difficult in the Gaza Strip that has been under siege for the past 14 years. More than two million people live in this place – known all over the world for the high density of its population – without access to a single radiation therapy unit or PET-CT system. In addition, other diagnostic means and cancer-fighting medications are in meager supply and do not always meet the needs of those whose lives are at risk.
AHP aims to increase awareness of breast cancer in the Gaza community, improve women’s access to early diagnostic facilities through clinical breast examination, facilitate the referral of at-risk women to mammographic screening services, and provide women with navigators who will engage in patient advocacy and increase and facilitate communication between patients, health care providers, and family members.
The right to life is sacred, and we believe that our duty is to improve the quality of life for Gaza’s cancer patients who live in miserable conditions and to strengthen social awareness of all issues related to cancer.
APH’s main programs and activities include the Social Protection Program for Cancer Patients, the Breast Cancer Mentorship Program, advocacy and lobbying for cancer-patient issues, the gendered promotion of the right to health and movement, economic empowerment, the Farha Goodwill Fund of Jordan’s King Hussein Cancer Centre (KHCC), the Fadfa program for women survivors and women with cancer, the Manufacturing Artificial Prostheses project to address the isolation of women who are hesitant to leave their houses after a mastectomy and thus excluded from participating in public life, and The Rose Club for Cancer Survivors – the first such club in Palestine and the Arab world.
AHP has been in a partnership with the KHCC since October 2016 in implementing a breast cancer awareness campaign. Other main advocacy campaigns to save the lives of women with cancer include a 2016 campaign in which AHP launched the hashtag #why-are-we-banned that made a huge impact and was greatly supported – yet the problem continues. AHP also organized demonstrations in Gaza’s streets and a hunger strike to demand an adequate supply of medication and the issuing of permits to travel for treatment, resulting in Israeli media coverage in January 2017 that addressed Gaza’s humanitarian issues. This was precipitated by our actions and advocacy for women with cancer and their right to move and receive treatment.