First Lady of Pakistan visits IBA Karachi underscoring the need for breast cancer awareness

February 21, 2022: "Unfortunately, a great deal of stigma is associated with breast cancer in our society, therefore, people do not seek clinical help. The death rate of breast cancer in Pakistan is very high which increases the necessity to create awareness regarding the non-contagious disease," said the honorable First Lady of Pakistan, Begum Samina Alvi while addressing the audience at the 'Breast Cancer Awareness Session 2022', organized by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi, Feminist Society (iFem) at the IBA Main Campus.

The First Lady graced the event as the distinguished guest, while other attendees included medical professionals, social activists and IBA students, faculty, and staff.

The seminar aimed to spread maximum awareness regarding breast cancer; echo the importance of early detection; and the role of regular self-examination. The panel of speakers demonstrated how to self-examine oneself, while a breast cancer survivor shared her story of courage in beating the disease.

The First Lady appreciated the initiative taken by the IBA Karachi to organize such sessions where students of both genders were present.

The seminar started as Ms. Ayesha Jameel, a breast cancer survivor shared her journey. "It is a painful disease, but if you want to live for yourself and your loved ones then you must fight it," she said, emphasizing on the need to knowing one's body so any abnormality needs to be reported and timely diagnosed so that timely treatment can be received.

The session proceeded as Dr. Zubaida Qazi, Founder President, Pink Pakistan delivered a detailed session on breast cancer causes, precautions and self-examination procedures. She highlighted that most people in our society believe in self-medication and do not visit doctors which results in women consulting doctors at a much later stage which reduces their chances of survival.

Dr. Qazi reiterated that women over the age of 40 years should go for mammogram screenings once every year, whereas women below this age bracket must self-examine themselves once a month to keep aware of one's breast health. Women should take signs and symptoms very seriously to get proper treatment. She encouraged women to put themselves on priority and to lead a healthy lifestyle. She stressed the need for men to be aware of the disease too as they will be the ones providing emotional support to women during their treatment.

She also suggested that government should somehow bear the expenses the treatment of breast cancer for underprivileged people either in the form of Sehat Card or any other scheme to facilitate the public.

Ms. Shaheera Siddiqui, Senior Vice President, Hawwa (an NGO), member of breast cancer awareness (BCA) task force and IBA alumna, shed light on the importance of initiatives taken by the government to take the situation in control and shared that Pakistan has the highest mortality rate in breast cancer than any other Asian country and considering the emergency, the President of Pakistan, Mr. Arif Alvi and the First Lady started the campaign to create awareness, which has now grown into a task force which not only works in the month of October but throughout the year.

Dr. Samia Khan, Social Activist and member of the BCA task force said, "Breast cancer is not a disease diagnosed in women only, but it is also diagnosed in men, too. The existence of breast cancer has increased in males as the count of cases has shifted from 1 out of 1000 to 1 out of 100."

The seminar ended with a Q&A session. The souvenirs were presented to the distinguished guest and speakers. The session concluded with a bake sale, the proceedings from which will be donated for breast cancer treatment and awareness.