“Our sustained and continuous efforts of raising awareness regarding breast cancer are yielding results, as women in far-flung areas of the country are becoming aware of the deadliness of breast cancer, since a rise in early-stage breast cancer detection is being reported in health care centres all over Pakistan.”
These remarks were expressed by First Lady of Pakistan, Begum SaminaAlvi; an active advocate for breast cancer awareness, during her keynote address at a high-profile panel discussion on Breast Cancer Awareness hosted by Serena Hotels under the banner of Raabta – a Public Diplomacy initiative.
Raabta is curated by renowned broadcast journalist Sidra Iqbal, and uses the convening power of Serena Hotels to bring thought leaders, policymakers, experts, and the civil society together to advance debate and curate knowledge about important socio-economic topics.
The experts on the panel included Dr. Ayesha IsaniMajeed, Head of Radiology Department and Incharge Federal Breast Cancer Screening Center at the Pakistan Institute for Medical Sciences (PIMS); Dr. Abida K. Sattar, Head of Breast Surgery at the Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi; Ms. ShireenGheba an author, blogger, painter, and a cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2021 who is now cancer free; and Mr. AizazChaudary, the Director of Institute of Strategic Studies and former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, who is also a male survivor of breast cancer.
Lady appreciated the efforts of Serena Hotels for annually organising awareness sessions for the public, though the utilisation of the Raabta Platform, as it has a valuable outreach and the discussion of the experts and cancer warriors is indeed an inspiration for all.
Sidra Iqbal remarked that with 90,000 women being diagnosed with breast cancer every year and the high death rate from the disease, indicates a dire need to break the cultural and traditional barriers to disease prevention and cure.Dr. Ayesha IsaniMajeed stressed that yearly mammograms for women over 40 and regular breast self-examinations should become a part of women’s self-care routine.
She informed that the Federal Breast Cancer Screening Centre at PIMS is the first public sector facility in Islamabad. Mr. AizazChaudhary said that there was a need to target men in awareness campaigns by distributing pamphlets and informational material.
She urged measures for early detection, as it was the biggest weapon towards the eradication of the disease. Dr. Abidashared that there is IVF fertility treatment now available for women whose fertility might be adversely affected by chemotherapy.