Ladies and gentlemen, Dear participants,
It is a great honor for me to speak to such a distinguished audience today and I am truly excited to avail of this opportunity to speak from this high tribune about such an important issue as cancer, and in particular – childhood cancer. To be quite frank with you, it was really hard for me to personally assume this responsibility, and furthermore, agree to the suggestion of our dear Dr. Gevorg Tamamyan on attending this vitally important summit, and further on – the conference, not to mention about delivering a formal speech.
Why was it hard? Because there stands the issue of having enough knowledge on the topic: I am a journalist, editor-in-chief of a newspaper. Furthermore, healthcare was never among the key directions of topics I covered as a journalist. I asked myself: what can I say to these people, what do I have to offer them, and the opposite? And here I am, standing in front of you and speaking to you, which indicates that I have found the answers to these questions. I did not need much for that. All I had to do was to recall the meetings I had with children with cancer, their looks, the warmth and trust these looks contained, our games and dances together and their smiles at me. As I remembered this picture, I realized that nothing was too hard for me any longer, and I would do everything I could to support these children to have a healthy and happy childhood. And I would even stand in front of people having highest standing and undeniable contribution in this field. What did I find out within this short period after becoming the chairwoman of one of the largest cancer foundations in Armenia – „City of Smile“ ? First of all, I would like to say that our foundation is an umbrella to almost all other foundations dealing with this issue in our country. We took that step realizing that in order to respond to the challenge best, we need to consolidate all endeavors, just as we all in this venue have united in an attempt to identify common solutions for overpowering cancer not only in separate countries, but rather in the whole world. Hence, I would like to highlight my findings which, as a matter of fact, were only positive ones. First, I discovered that cancer was not terrible. Second, all you need to manage and overcome cancer are financial resources, good will and determination, since the science and medicine have accomplished the rest, meaning – they have disclosed an array of keys to conquer this disease and keep improving those. Thirdly, I came to realize that there are people who make every effort to raise and direct necessary financial resources. However, in many countries of the world this disease still remains to be a sentence, children with cancer continue to die.
We have countries – rich and developed, where the overall mortality rate for childhood cancer amounts to 20%, whereas we have countries where this percentage ranges from 80-90. To me, this is the statistics that we need to change at the earliest. It’s not the fault of the child with cancer that he or she was not born in Switzerland, United States or in the United Kingdom so as to overcome the disease instead of being condemned to death. My deepest belief is that there are sufficient financial resources in the world for each and every one regardless of their country. All we need is to mobilize these resources and have enough will to allocate them appropriately and equally. Sure enough it is not easy; it is a huge work, nevertheless, this is the key essence and purpose of our today’s meeting. In my opinion, the shortest possible way to solution is to expand the coverage and geography of the world-class cancer centers and ensure the accessibility of these services for people living in all corners of the world. This means that such centers as those in Harvard or Oxford should not be just one or two, but rather they have to be established across all regions to make them accessible for everyone with cancer, and deliver adequate and quality services to them. And although it may sound too bold, yet this is the type of center we strive to establish in Armenia to serve not only the population of our country, but also that of the entire region. We certainly cannot do this without your support, and I want to assure you that we are firm enough in our efforts to obtain your backing and to ensure high level solution of the issue. Over the recent years, huge efforts were made in Armenia to overcome cancer. The childhood cancer mortality rate in our country has dropped from 90 percent to 30. And, we can further improve these indicators and record similar progress across the whole region. We are willing to support with all available means and uphold the efforts to establish similar centers in other regions as well. We have to, eventually, put an end to this common reality when cancer is curable for the rich and incurable for the poor. Ladies and gentlemen, there are hundreds of children and adults awaiting for me in my country, and I very much want to return to them with good news that we can help them endure this disease as lightly as possible, to overcome it once and forever and fully integrate into public life. It is my great wish to be the first to inform them about such a hospital or a center as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or King Hussein Cancer Center to open in our region as well, and anyone who will ever come to confront this disease, will have the chance to get appropriate treatment and service just as the citizens of other rich and developed countries. Let me once again reaffirm that we are committed to be one of the most active players of the global cancer community and contribute in making the treatment of this disease accessible to everyone. I am grateful for your attention and I would like to thank Princess Dina for supporting us. Please look after your health since what you do is much needed by hundreds of thousands. Thank you,