OCA to conduct virtual marathon on May 22 and 23
MUSCAT – The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on cancer care world over. Therefore, more efforts are needed to help bring the cases down; provide proper care for those affected and also raise more awareness. So, unfazed by the pandemic and its deleterious impact, the Oman Cancer Association (OCA), under its newly appointed director, Faiqa bint Ali Al Sinawi, is embarking on a two-day virtual walkathon this Saturday and Sunday.
The 17th annual virtual walkathon will be held on May 22 and 23 under the auspices of the health minister, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saeedi. “This year, the OCA walkathon will go global with the theme ‘Together We Win’. The platform will be open for 48 hours at a stretch,” Faiqa bint Ali Al Sinawi told the Black & White.
Cancer cases were on the rise and therefore the need for more awareness. While a real physical walkathon was out of bounds during the current pandemic, a virtual one was possible. So the OCA went ahead with this new theme, Faiqa Sinawi said. “Cancer does not stop because of the pandemic,” she noted, adding that the incidences of cancer still are on the rise.
“His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik has encouraged all of us to go the virtual path and use the technology to the best advantage for sustainable projects. The idea of a virtual platform came up from discussions with our board members. So that we can reach out to everyone locally and globally to anyone who wants to know about our association,” Faiqa said.
Congratulations on your new role at the OCA. Tell us a bit about this new portfolio and what do you aim to achieve as part of your vision to prevent cancer and create public awareness?
It is an exciting opportunity for me at the OCA. The director’s position is a new one and I am proud to have been chosen for this role. My association with the association is not new. I have been a board member since 2011 and am involved in the OCA activities for many years. My focus in the new role would be to pursue sustainable projects, while creating awareness on prevention of cancer. Most of our projects are depending on donations and fundraisers. I will currently be focusing on creating a sustainable platform to move forward with the sustainable projects to completion. We will, at a later stage, unveil our new projects and plans too.
Tell us more about the 17th Virtual Walkathon on May 22 and 23?
Our local community needs to be more aware on cancer prevention. The walkathon is one such event created over the last few years to create awareness and involvement with the local community. Unfortunately 2020 was very challenging for us with the onset of the pandemic, and the annual walkathon could not be conducted last year.
The 17th annual walkathon (virtual) is to be held on May 22 and 23 under the auspices of the health minister, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saeedi. This year the OCA’s walkathon goes global with the theme ‘Together We Win’. The platform will be open for 48 hours at a stretch.
The situation still continues and hence our decision to go forward with the walkathon this year. Cancer does not stop because of the pandemic. The incidences of cancer still are on the rise.
His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik has encouraged all of us to go the virtual path and use the technology to the best advantage for sustainable projects. The idea of a virtual platform came up from discussions with our board members. So that we can reach out to everyone locally and globally to anyone who wants to know about our association.
Is it advisable to go forward with the walkathon in the current semi lockdown scenario?
A physical walkathon is not advisable according to the local scenario and authorities, who are working together to keep the community safe from the COVID spread.
At the moment we want our community to be safe and healthy, while also be aware of the prevention of cancer too. So instead of postponing or cancelling, our board thought of a unique virtual walkathon, which will not be a physical walk, but will at least take the idea of creating awareness on cancer prevention.
Can you give us a brief on the virtual schedule/specifics of OCA walkathon on May 22 to 23? What should a person do to participate?
A participant can log on to our site: www.oca.om to register. The virtual platform will take you through the different routes of Oman, different regions, and places — all created with a touristic view. Click on, register, choose a character or avatar you can associate with and walk through the paths created. It is in the form of a virtual reality platform.
An IT team comprising of Omani companies Thawani Group, Cosmic, efficiency and eBrain have put together an amazing platform filled with interesting messages, videos, 12 ribbons to be won, and many pathways created based on the streets of oman, with museums, deserts and more.
It will be easier to log on and check out, rather than my trying to verbalise the virtual platform. The walkathon is a replica of mini Oman. An international visitor will have an amazing view and introduction of Oman as a country with all its touristic locations.
Will it not defeat the purpose of promoting actual physical activity?
We need to make the best of the situation we are in. We cannot stop people from getting sick; we cannot stop the spread of cancer either. But we can go ahead and spread awareness on the prevention of cancer.
While physical activity will not take place, we want the community to be involved and participate in the awareness campaign, which will later become a fundraiser in the coming years. This year we have made it free registration.
This walkathon is a reality walk to information and cancer awareness using technology. We request the community to join us in our awareness endeavour this year and log on to www.oca.om to register and participate.
Don’t forget the dates – it is May 22 and 23, 2021. The platform is open to all. Log on to www.oca.om
(*) Faiqa Sinawi has her masters’ degree in nursing from Queen Margaret University, UK and has over 28 years of experience at the ministry of health. Her last position was as the director of the school and university health for Oman at the health ministry. She has extensive nursing, administration, and planning experience in several regions across the Sultanate.