Envision's first annual conference - Egypt Today
CAIRO – 29 November 2017: A revolutionary step in the fields of scientific research and community development, Egypt’s first foundation addressing health dieting as a therapeutic tool to treat and combat cancer was launched on Tuesday Nov. 28., aiming to spread nutritional and educational awareness and to contribute to effective medical research to defeat the disease of the century.
Founded by renowned nutritionist Dr. Cherifa Aboul Fettouh, the “Envision” initiative aims to explore the relationship between modern day clinical nutrition and its effects on the cancer process, acting as an interface between the medical and research sectors and civil society institutions.
“The idea initiated when I was in a conference in Gustave Roussy [one of the world's leading cancer-research institutes] last September. And for the first time, physicians were talking about the role of nutrition in treating cancer … not as a supplement or to boost immunity but as an actual treatment,” Aboul Fettouh tells Egypt Today.
Such research is already ongoing in France, America, Germany and Japan, Aboul Fettouh adds. “So where is Egypt in this? Do we always have to take the results of research from others? Why don’t we work on this research as well, since we desperately need it?… I started thinking [about] what we can do in Egypt to arrive to that.”
Envision was granted official status as an Egyptian civil society organization specialized in development in November.
In the presence of the ministers of social solidarity and local development, actress and co-founder of the foundation Youssra, and a spectrum of public figures, physicians and civil society institutions, the foundation hosted its launching event and first annual conference under the title “Nutrition and Cancer: A Rational Way of Thinking”.
Speaking at the conference, Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali asserted, “This foundation introduces Egypt to a new science and a new intellect … Elements of success are all present, the most important of which is passion.”
Wali further urged the founders to expand the mission of the organization to other Arab countries, such as Syria, Yemen and Libya since they suffer a critical lack of medical infrastructure. “The idea to treat this disease with nutrition would have a lot of impact in a country with limited economic resources… We need to have a plan from the start for Egypt to adopt and export the idea of nutritional therapy to the whole region,” she recommended.
“You are very passionate about what you are doing and you brought together a group, where everyone loves each other, loves philanthropy and has valuable experience,” Wali addressed Aboul Fettouh.
Articulating the vision and strategy of the initiative, Dr. Dina Omar, Managing Director of Phoenix IHSCS and Vice President of Envision Foundation highlighted the three major aspects of the foundation’s mission, stressing that the initiative aims primarily to coordinate between different research institutions to facilitate their role and increase the impact of their work.
Envision, Omar explains, focuses mainly on the “prevention” of cancer through three phases: spreading public and community awareness about cancer and nutrition by reaching out to Egyptian housewives and average citizens; educating professionals and doctors to incorporate these ideas in their interaction with patients; and finally, advancing scientific research by coordinating between different entities and analyzing the data on a larger scale.
“This is the first annual event and it will be held every year to assess what has been done, with transparency,” Omar says; adding that a quarterly plan will be published on the foundation’s website, including financing and budgeting.
Actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Youssra is one of Envision’s founding members. “We are generous in everything [in Egypt], everything but scientific research. We need to put more money to become pioneers in scientific research,” Youssra spoke at the conference. She added that through the foundation “we will learn a lot” about eating right and living right in order to combat cancer, “the disease of the century.”
The foundation currently consists of 15 founding members, specialized physicians, and civil society institutions, such as Misr El Kheir and Orman Charity Association, as well as United Nations (UN) representatives.
The first checkpoint on the institution’s road map is “to place Egypt on the world map of scientific research,” Dr. Ahmed Aboul Fettouh, dental consultant in periodontics and oral implantology, said at the conference. “This is the first institution in the Middle East to address Cancer and nutrition,” he added. The two other aspects are to “establish factories specialized in this kind of nutrition … which will set a first in the whole world” and finally “building a generation that will pioneer new ideas,” he explained.
To end on an optimistic note, cancer survivor and advocate Yasmine Geith sent a message of hope to all attendees and cancer patients all over. “Never lose hope; and when you think your life is coming to an end, sometimes those endings are just a beginning for a better life,” Geith said patiently, emphasizing how she has personally seen the great influence of good nutrition throughout her treatment.
All part of a wholesome complementary approach to treat cancer, Envision is a message of hope in itself for Egypt and the whole region. If and when the vision becomes a reality, it would become a major turning point in finally combatting the financial, social and emotional destruction of cancer.