Case Study: Developing Health Systems Resources

Educating Healthcare Workers in Saudi Arabia, Roche


Expertise in oncology is lacking in Saudi Arabia’s vast rural area, which covers some 2.5 million square kilometers. Consequently, many cancer patients living in rural or remote areas die without being diagnosed, or they are not referred to a cancer center in a major city until they are in a late stage. Project Outreach is an initiative among Roche, the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia, key opinion leaders, and national cancer associations, such as the Saudi Cancer Society.

Started in 2013, the project aims to ensure that people living in remote areas are properly diagnosed and referred to specialists early enough to receive treatment. The project includes a dedicated team of eight medical educators who travel to remote areas of Saudi Arabia. The team’s role is to raise awareness of cancer, improve screening by local healthcare workers, and provide referral information regarding cancer-treating physicians in major cities.

Results to Date?

Project Outreach has raised awareness of cancer and improved screening in the vast remote areas in Saudi Arabia. During 2013, it enabled the screening of 3,185 women for breast cancer.

Activities have included organizing a breast cancer symposium for primary care physicians in Madinah, where specialists from Saudi Arabia’s leading hospitals briefed physicians on the fundamentals of cancer diagnosis, surgical treatment, and chemotherapy. The project also helped support the opening of a new breast cancer clinic in the main hospital in Bisha.

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