By: ASMA GHANI
Islamabad: Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer in Asia and every year 40,000 women die of breast cancer in Pakistan.
One of every nine women in Pakistan is at high risk of breast cancer. Though the treatment facilities in Pakistan are inadequate, with early detection chances of surviving the disease are more than 90 percent.
To mark October as ‘Pinktober’- the breast cancer awareness month, Pink Ribbon has launched a nationwide breast cancer awareness drive and started fundraising for building Pakistan’s first dedicated breast cancer hospital. Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Wednesday launched a campaign that includes reaching out to over 100,000 young girls for breast cancer awareness during the month of October.
“Every year more than 40,000 women die of breast cancer in Pakistan, thus there is a need to pay special attention to prevent this disease,” said CEO Pink Ribbon Omer Aftab. He added, “To cater to the needs, Pink Ribbon is launching Pakistan’s first dedicated breast cancer hospital and we need ever more support to build this hospital to ensure that none of us will have to bear the horror of losing a mother, a sister, a wife or a daughter.”
He informed that a hospital would be established in Lahore where trained doctors will be examining the patients.
“In India, one of every 22 women is at risk of breast cancer while in Pakistan every ninth woman is infected with this disease.
Moreover, it is increasing among young girls that is alarming,” he added.
He also highlighted that due to Pink Ribbon’s intensive awareness work over the years, awareness about the disease has risen significantly and a demand for breast cancer services has emerged.
October is celebrated as the international month of breast cancer awareness worldwide.
This year during Pakistan’s national awareness campaign, Pink Ribbon will be raising public awareness about the disease, highlighting the role of research into the causes of breast cancer and promoting the significance of early detection of breast cancer in terms of better treatment and survival.
Such activities are carried out throughout the year but the month of October will specifically focus on this issue.
In October, Pink Ribbon is not only going to spread awareness among young female students through informative material in collaboration with HEC, but it will also organise various events to sensitise women and girls at the community level through direct interaction.
Furthermore, Pinktober 2014 will be running different activations throughout the month to increase maximum awareness and survivorship care to build a strong network of prevention and hope.
Breast Cancer Survivor Dr Maria Catalina Alliende while sharing her personal experience said, “A diagnosis of breast cancer does not always mean that you are going to die.
Discussing it remains a taboo in society and women conceal it even if they survive.” She urged the survivors to come forward to dispel the myths about the disease, as what they say would have more weightage and impact even with the opinion of doctors.
Higher Education Commission (HEC) Executive Director Prof Mansoor Akbar Kundi mentioned that during three years of Higher Education Commission’s strategic partnership with Pink Ribbon, over 352,000 girls of more than 100 colleges and universities have been reached out in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi to make them aware of the disease.
He added that the activation would be held nationwide this October.