Irvine’s MP Dr Philippa Whitford spoke of her “pride” at progress made in the development of breast cancer services in Palestine.

After virtually chairing a session at Gaza’s 2nd Cancer Conference, breast cancer surgeon Dr Whitford said she was “bursting with pride” to see the progress made on meeting the quality improvement audit standards she developed for cancer services in the region.

As part of the on-going project she set up together with Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), in 2016, to improve the provision of breast cancer care, Dr Whitford took the quality improvement audit standards she had developed for Scotland in 2000 and modified them for use in Palestine.

After seeing the latest data, a delighted Dr Whitford said: “The ‘medical bridge project’ we set up between Scotland and Palestine, to provide advice and training to local clinicians, has made fantastic progress in an incredibly short period of time and often under difficult conditions, which include the pandemic and the on-going blockade of Gaza by the Israeli Government.

“I am grateful to all my breast cancer colleagues from across Scotland who have worked on the project but I am prouder still of my Palestinian colleagues who have taken it forward and improved breast cancer care so radically for women in Gaza since I led the first visit in September 2017.

“The local team have managed to meet the vast majority of quality standards despite the difficult circumstances they face in the occupied territories.

“It is a far cry from my fact-finding visit in 2016 when the vast majority of women with breast

cancer, and all of those I met, had been treated by mastectomy with all the psychological impact on body image and self-confidence.”