تحت رعاية سموّ الشيخ خالد بن محمد بن زايد آل نهيان، ولي عهد أبوظبي رئيس المجلس التنفيذي لإمارة أبوظبي
Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council

Transforming Cancer Care in the UAE


Today, in the dynamically shifting atmosphere of the healthcare sector, some people stand out as inspiring role models who bring about revolutionary change that has an international impact. One of the leaders of this movement, Changing the way cancer is treated in the Middle East and United Arab Emirates (UAE), is Prof. Humaid Obaid bin Harmal Al Shamsi, the renowned Oncologist, founder, and director of the Oncology services at Burjeel holding, president of the Emirates Oncology society and the lead of gulf cancer society. A visionary approach to clinical practice and research, unrelenting dedication, and a commitment to excellence have characterized his journey.

Life in Oncology

Prof. Humaid Al Shamsi’s persistent desire to improve the lives of cancer patients led him to pursue a career in oncology more than 20 years ago. The foundation was laid by his early medical school exposure to a variety of medical disciplines, but the spark inside him was lit by a passionate oncology professor. Prof. Al Shamsi was attracted to the distinct spirituality of oncology—a discipline where scientific rigor and empathy meet—after observing the psychological and physical struggles that cancer patients endure.

When Prof. Humaid returned to the United Arab Emirates in 2006, he was confronted with a sobering fact: there were not enough oncologists there. Acknowledging the urgent necessity for specialized cancer care, he set out to broaden his knowledge and experience. The diverse range of oncology, in conjunction with the ongoing progress in research and therapy, offered a stimulating and demanding opportunity. In addition to intellectual curiosity, Prof. Al Shamsi chose to concentrate on gastrointestinal oncology because of the difficulty of treating cancers affecting more than ten different organs.

His dedication to the treatment of cancer went beyond diagnosis and intervention. Humaid Al Shamsi accepted the challenge of being the first person from the UAE to specialize in palliative care after noticing an alarming absence of palliative care services in the country. His commitment to bringing patients peace, easing their agony, and making sure they have a dignified death experience shows a comprehensive approach to patient care that goes beyond standard medical procedures.

Professional Journey

During his time at the internationally recognized MD Anderson Cancer Center, Shamsi’s career reached a turning point. His intellectual curiosity was stimulated by the combination of his comprehensive training in gastrointestinal oncology and the exceptional chance to make a significant contribution to innovative studies. Insights into the complexities of cancer therapy and research were greatly enhanced by exposure to a large number of patients with uncommon cancers and the knowledge of colleagues at MD Anderson.

Shamsi’s perspectives were broadened by the level of expertise and teamwork he encountered at MD Anderson. He was able to see many cases in a single day via clinics that focused on particular cancer types, such as neuroendocrine tumors, gastric cancer, and colon cancer. His expertise was enhanced by working in a collaborative setting with specialists from other domains, and it also established the groundwork for a fruitful research career.

Wisdom Applied

Having gained a wealth of information and a global network of relationships, Prof. Al Shamsi returned to the United Arab Emirates with a mission to transform the cancer care environment. His involvement with the Ministry of Health and Prevention as a member of the official cancer control committee demonstrated that his contributions extended beyond treatment.

Research is another area in which Prof. Al Shamsi’s passion for improving cancer care is evident. He discovered a new type of colon cancer “Non-V600BRAF mutation CRC” with his research group at MD Anderson in 2016.

He enhances the reputation of his practice and offers regulators and stakeholders insightful information by releasing several papers on cancer care in the United Arab Emirates. By establishing the foundation for evidence-based standards that may be rolled out nationally, his research aims to improve cancer care in the area.

The significance of a multi-stakeholder approach is highlighted by his interactions with a range of stakeholders, such as pharmaceutical corporations, cancer advocacy groups, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). To improve the general standard of cancer care, Prof. Humaid Al Shamsi collaborates on research projects, actively starts awareness campaigns, and works closely with regulators. This collaborative attitude promotes a culture of shared accountability in addressing the intricacies of the disease and simultaneously establishes a precedent for comprehensive cancer care.

Must Read Book on Cancer care

Humaid Al Shamsi’s important work on cancer care is a unique example of his dedication to knowledge dissemination. He wrote a book titled ‘’ Cancer Care in the United Arab Emirates’’ and made the audacious choice to give the book away for free, realizing that many people were struggling financially and wanting to ensure that important information reached as many people as possible. The book’s popularity, which earned it the title of the most downloaded medical book in the Middle East in 2021, highlights the role that easily accessible information plays in building a healthier society.

Making information publicly accessible is in line with Humaid Al Shamsi’s larger goal of democratizing knowledge and enabling people to actively participate in their healthcare process. The book is an extensive resource that covers medical aspects as well as the psychological and emotional consequences of dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

End Stigma, Empower All

Gaining the trust of the public and overcoming skepticism are two major obstacles that Humaid Al Shamsi faces in the UAE’s oncology sector. It is still believed that going overseas for treatment is the only way to get the best care, despite considering enormous advances in cancer care infrastructure and knowledge. By using his social media platforms to promote success stories, highlight the complexity of cases successfully treated in the UAE, and boost public confidence in local oncology treatments, Shamsi diligently tries to refute this notion. With a combined follower count of over 200K on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms, he is considered one of the most followed oncologists in the world.

His focus on success stories is a reflection of his dedication to empowering patients as well as a calculated attempt to increase public confidence. The experience of receiving a cancer diagnosis is frequently accompanied by a wide range of emotions and social stigmas. Reassurance is the foundation of Humaid Al Shamsi’s approach, which emphasizes that patients should not feel guilty about having cancer.

In his interactions with patients, Al Shamsi goes beyond medical protocols. He reassures patients that their diagnosis is not a result of any personal failing, alleviating the burden of guilt that may hinder their ability to accept and undergo cancer treatment. This approach is particularly crucial in cases where lifestyle factors, such as smoking, may contribute to the development of cancer. By addressing stigma head-on and promoting an environment of understanding and support, Humaid Al Shamsi ensures that patients feel empowered throughout their cancer journey.

Let’s close the Gap

A realistic and inclusive approach forms the foundation of Humaid Al Shamsi’s vision for the future of cancer care in the United Arab Emirates and the larger Middle East. Aware of the economic differences across the Middle East region, he promotes the establishment of care standards that center on doable and affordable remedies. By doing this, he hopes to close the gap and guarantee that everyone, regardless of financial situation, has access to high-quality cancer care.

As a leading figure in the UAE’s oncology field, Prof. Al Shamsi actively collaborates with other oncologists and stakeholders to create a comprehensive and integrated ecosystem for cancer care. His involvement in establishing cancer societies in the UAE sets an example for others to follow, developing a spirit of collaboration that can elevate the standard of care across the region.

As a result of Humaid Al Shamsi’s commitment to sharing knowledge, the oncology field in the region has advanced and people confronting cancer have been given more confidence. This is because of his influential book, articles, and awareness campaigns. He is positioned to be a key player in the change of the oncology sector in the United Arab Emirates and beyond due to his approach, which is based on empathy, teamwork, and a dedication to quality.

Prof. Humaid Obaid bin Harmal Al Shamsi stands out as a visionary leader in an area where cancer care is significantly changing. He symbolizes the values of patient-centric care, collaborative research, and an uncompromising pursuit of quality. His path, abounding with innovative projects, is an inspiration to both individuals and medical experts, showing the significant influence one committed person can have on the future of cancer treatment in the Middle East. Humaid Al Shamsi’s legacy is increasingly associated with a more optimistic future for cancer patients in the area as he persistently breaks down barriers and advocates for high-quality, easily accessible cancer care.

Source:MedEdge MEA