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President for concerted efforts to prevent breast cancer

ISLAMABAD – President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday called for concerted efforts by the intelligentsia, media and health experts to prevent the prevalence of breast cancer in the country through creating massive awareness and breaking the taboos.

Addressing an event held to create awareness for self-examination of breast cancer, the president said the disease could easily be diagnosed at an early stage by guiding the women to palpate their breasts.

First Lady Samina Arif Alvi, federal ministers, parliamentarians, diplomats and representatives of various collaborating organizations attended the event held as part of the month-long awareness drive under the First Lady’s initiative.

With the participants pinning pink ribbon or wearing pink scarves while following the event, the Presidency turned into pink after the pink lights were switched on to promote the pink ribbon drive. Dr Alvi viewed that the repeating of awareness messages made difference as had been experienced in case of the coronavirus, which had been successfully contained through joint efforts and cooperation by people as well as religious scholars.

However, the president again advised the people not to give up precautions as the virus could hit back hard as had been witnessed in some countries.

He viewed that the breast feedings could not only lead to prevention of breast cancer as well as the stunting in babies. He said being a developing country Pakistan would be unable to provide treatment to every cancer patient. Therefore, it was vital to take preventive measures to avert any bad scenario.

He said contrary to around 98 percent survival rate, almost 50 percent breast cancer patients died in Pakistan just because of delayed diagnosis as the ailment was usually concealed owing to attached taboos.

He said having witnessed unprecedented discipline and spirit on the national issues shown by the nation, he could confidently say that the country was on tipping point of achieving progress and prosperity.

Earlier, First Lady Samina Alvi said the breast cancer and protection of disabled people were the two areas of her focus. She said the statistics on prevalence of the breast cancer in Pakistan were alarming and urged the ministers, parliamentarians and media to dedicate their energy and time to create awareness on the disease. She also lauded the civil society and philanthropic organizations for introducing free of charge mammography facility for the breast cancer patients. She also urged the federal and provincial governments to establish screening and mammography facilities at least at divisional level, besides reducing the treatment costs.

She also advised the social media users and bloggers to create awareness and thanked the civil society organizations like Green Star, Pink Ribbon and Shaukat Khanum Hospital for supporting the initiative.

She also clarified that the anti-breast cancer efforts had no financial implications for the government exchequer rather all was being funded by civil society organizations and health organs of the armed forces.

Special Assistant to the PM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said the government was making efforts to help reduce the cost of breast cancer medicines and treatment through promoting investment in fields of medicine and pharmacy.

He said a national database and research on the subject could help the government devise policies for prevention and treatment of the disease.

Inter-provincial Coordination Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, also a breast cancer survivor, said she was diagnosed the breast cancer during her stint as National Assembly Speaker. But she accepted the disease to tear down the taboo and treat it like any other disease. She said a minor lump in the breast could prove fatal if ignored out of shame or negligence.

Brigadier Dr Nadeem Paracha of Army Medical Corps, while highlighting the military’s health services and contributions, said the institution planned to establish 10 state of the art breast cancer diagnosis and treatment facilities across the country.

He said instead of establishing a few cancer hospitals, every hospitals must have the treatment facility and every doctor must be educated on the subject.

Group Captain Dr Munazza of Pakistan Air Force said the PAF had been extensively running free medical and awareness camps on the disease. Dr Asim of Shaukat Khanum Hospital also shared with the audience the statistics, treatment and research support by the SKMH, a specialized facility.

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