ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: President Dr. Arif Alvi has said that 50,000 precious lives could be saved every year by creating awareness regarding self-examination and early diagnoses of breast cancer in the Country.
He said that in Pakistan every year 100,000 women were affected by breast cancer and many lost their lives due to the lack of awareness and education.
The President said this while addressing the media persons during an interaction regarding October being the breast cancer awareness month, at Aiwan-e-Sadr, today.
The President said that unfortunately due to the lack of awareness regarding the deadly breast cancer, the women neither carry out their self-examination nor seek medical advice after observing unusual growth in the body, resultantly cancer spreads to other parts of body and becomes un-curable.
He said that social taboos also played a significant role in the high mortality rate due to this disease in the Country, as most of the time women were reluctant to talk about this disease with their family members and usually did not consult with medical practitioners.
He said that if breast cancer was diagnosed at an early stage, there was a 98% chance of a complete cure, enabling the person to live a normal and healthy life.
However, the chances of cure decreased proportionally as the disease spread to the entire breast or to the other parts of the body.
He said that Pakistan had limited healthcare facilities and resources to handle the treatment of the patients who had been diagnosed at the later stages, so the best way out was the early diagnosis of breast cancer.
The President emphasized that all possible steps should be taken to empower the women in the country, they must be provided equal opportunities for employment, seeking loans and starting their own businesses and they should be given their rightful share in the inheritance.
He said that it would not only empower the women financially but also enable them to take necessary decisions with confidence to take care of their health and seek health advice whenever it is required.
The President highlighted that the status of awareness regarding breast cancer had improved significantly due to the campaign headed by Mrs Samina Arif Alvi.
He said that Mrs Alvi has also drawn a comprehensive plan of action for the entire year wherein the awareness regarding the disease will be spread through organizing events, installing standees in the shops, malls and other business centres, distribution of brochures and pamphlets and utilizing health workers at the grassroots levels in towns, villages and rural areas to impart awareness regarding self-examination for the early diagnosis of the disease.
The President said that he himself had written letters to the Prime Minister, Ministers, Parliamentarians, the business community and media owners to become partners in the breast cancer awareness campaign in order to save the precious lives of our women. He said that the country is also facing acute problems of malnutrition in women and stunting in children.
He added that the first 1000 days in the life of a newborn child and mother were very important, during this period women should be provided with necessary food supplements to not only ensure their own health but also of the newborn.
The President also underlined the need for reducing the stress level in society, which had serious implications on overall health.
He said that unfortunately, 24% of our population was suffering from mental stress while its rate in students is 60 to 80%. He said that by adopting simple healthy practices like regular exercise, a balanced diet and avoiding smoking the level of stress could be reduced and the risk of contracting diseases like breast cancer could be minimized.
The President said that the role of media in creating awareness was of paramount importance as it provided an excellent, fast and effective medium for transmitting messages to the general public and creating awareness on adopting a healthy lifestyle.
He said that spreading the messages of early diagnoses and self-examination in schools, colleges and universities was also very important because educated youth could easily communicate the said message to their families, friends and society.
Speaking on the occasion, Mrs Samina Arif Alvi said that if breast cancer was diagnosed at the first stage, 98% of lives could be saved without any complication.
She said that however, the mortality rate increased as breast cancer entered 3rd and 4th stage. She said that we should take all possible measures to create awareness among our female population regarding self-examination and early diagnoses to keep our mother healthy, which would lead to a healthy family and country.
Earlier, Dr Fauzia Abdus Samad, in her presentation emphasized the need for self-examination to diagnose the disease at the early stage so that it could be treated without any significant complication and expenditure and the patient could live a healthy life.
The interactive session was attended by a number of renowned media persons who asked questions regarding breast cancer.