Omar Cherkaoui, one of the activists who launched a petition to support cancer patients in Morocco, said the signatories of the document will not give up on the fundamental objective of the appeal: Creating a cancer fund.
Thousands of activists launched the petition in December 2019 calling on the government to establish a fund that would improve health care access for cancer patients and offer them free medical treatment.
Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani received the activists behind the petition on Monday and suggested alternative solutions to improve health care for cancer patients.
El Othmani also announced that Morocco is set to launch a national plan to help reduce the morbidity and mortality rates of cancer.
The measures he offered, however, do not include the creation of the cancer fund, one of the fundamental objectives of the activists’ petition.
On Monday, Charkaoui said that the signatories of the petition cannot reject any offer, no matter how small, if it is going to ultimately be beneficial for cancer patients.
“All that we can get from the government and snatch it from its teeth, we will accept because it is in line with the spirit of the petition,” Charkaoui wrote on Monday after his meeting with El Othmani.
He said that when El Othmani vowed to generalize vaccinations among girls against cervical cancer, “we felt proud that we were behind this measure. Many of us, and I am one of them, did not know that 1,500 children of 11 years suffer from uterine cancer annually.”
Stressing the need for a cancer fund, Charkaoui emphasized how high treatment costs for cancer make some families helpless.
“We expressed our anger yesterday at the government’s rejection of the creation of the Cancer Fund, and we will continue to demand it until it is achieved.”
However, Charaoui said he and the petition’s signatories felt proud for achieving something.
Morocco’s plans for improving cancer treatment
On Monday, El Othmani suggested the launch of the National Plan for Prevention and Treatment of Cancer 2020-2029, seeking to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.
The head of government vowed the launch of vaccinations against cervical cancer for all girls, starting in 2021. He said the measure will benefit 350,000 girls annually.
He said that under the plan, Morocco will establish a national committee for cancer prevention and treatment.
“What our country has achieved in the field of cancer control and prevention over the past years is positive and appreciated, but it does not preclude that there are deficiencies that must be reviewed, and we are glad that it is the first time that a national petition has reached this level,” El Othmani acknowledged after his meeting with the petition launchers.
He also praised the activists for launching the petition, describing it as a “democratic act.”
Morocco’s Ministry of Health estimated that 40,000 Moroccans are diagnosed with cancer each annually.
Last year, cancer patients also launched a “we don’t want to die” campaign on social media to share their struggles about health issues and the expensive cost of cancer treatment in the country.
Under the campaign, patients shared videos to speak about their experiences.
The campaign received support from thousands of Moroccans, inspiring activists to call for the creation of a cancer fund.
The leader of the campaign died on January 4 of this year.